A LABOUR candidate campaigning to become Gloucestershire's first Police Commissioner has sparked controversy by saying that if elected she would use her power to stop the culling of badgers.

Rupi Dhanda told followers on Twitter that if she gets the job she would not allow police officers to attend the culling to keep protesters safe and under control.

If there was no policing there could be no shooting of badgers, she declared.

The tweet said: "If I am elected as PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) my officers will not oversee a badger cull, hence no cull. Full stop."

But critics say that her revealing tweet shows not only that politics has no place in policing but demonstrates that Mrs Dhanda has not grasped what the role of a Commissioner will be.

One of her rivals at the November 15 election of the Commissioner for Gloucestershire, retired county police superintendent Martin Surl, who is standing as an independent, said: "Her tweet shows a basic misunderstanding of the role of the Police & Crime Commissioner and if she intends to bring pressure on the Chief Constable not to police the cull that is very dangerous.

"The police frequently have to stand between opposing groups and often get abuse from both sides. They have their own views but police without fear or favour - that's why it's called the thin blue line."

Mrs Dhanda, wife of former Gloucester Labour MP Parmjit Dhanda, is a well known opponent of the badger cull as she feels it is "unnecessary cruelty", would place the police under greater pressure and is not the best method to tackle TB.

Mrs Dhanda's tweet prompted several comments and replies including one from Sam Chapman, who runs the Top of the Cops website.

He told her: "Rupi, have you read the policing protocol? This is clearly an operational matter and it would be unlawful for a PCC to interfere."

Martin Surl also tweeted back to her saying: "Thought they were the chief constable's officers, not yours. Serious implications for policing as we know it."

Mrs Dhanda's comment also provoked other tweeters.

One, Christopher E Wright said: "That is surely an operational decision and outside PCC remit...by a very long way."

Another tweeter told her: "They are not your officers, they are servants of the Crown."

And another said: "If you are elected PCC and the Chief tells you it's operational and agrees to officers being sent, what would you do?"

But she also got support. Tweeter Jo Ward said: "I'm praying that you win then, good luck."

Mrs Dhanda has so far not responded to requests for her to comment but her tweet saying she would not allow officers to oversee the badger cull has now been removed.

A Gloucestershire police spokeswoman said: "It would not be appropriate for us to comment at this time on any matters raised by the police and crime commissioner candidates."