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Residents can vote with confidence in 2024 elections

26 June 2024

Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire Constabulary are working closely to reduce the risk of electoral malpractice and to ensure voters have confidence in the run-up to the Parliamentary elections on 4 July 2024.

Peterborough's work to deter electoral malpractice has previously been recognised by the Electoral Commission and other national bodies. The city council and police are continuing this work with their electoral campaign this year.

At every election, the Returning Officer and the council's Electoral Services team carry out a number of checks and processes which have been developed over many years, with Cambridgeshire Constabulary, to prevent, detect and prosecute electoral offences. These include cross checking the signature and date of birth of every postal vote received, closely monitoring new applications to join the electoral register and verifying information provided.

If any postal votes cause concern, these are scrutinised and kept separate to other postal votes. They undergo the same stringent checks outlined above and if fraud is suspected, they are passed to the police for investigation.

In addition, the council is ensuring requirements set out in new legislation around postal vote returns are met. More information about this is available to view in this video which has been shared on the council's social media accounts.

Polling station staff are trained on electoral legislation and risks in their polling stations and are made aware of issues such as family voting, where family members try and coerce a relative into voting in a certain way, and that photography is not permitted in polling stations.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has once again set up a dedicated team to work jointly with the council to investigate allegations of electoral malpractice. Police will investigate any reports of corrupt activity. Allegations will be treated seriously, and prosecutions will be brought if evidence of wrongdoing is uncovered. There will also be an increased police presence in the city on polling day.

Matt Gladstone, Acting Returning Officer for Peterborough City Council, said: “People are entitled to use their vote in elections freely without fear or intimidation. That is why we work closely with the police for every election that we hold and go above and beyond our legal responsibility to ensure that the process is run as fairly as possible.

"Legislation dictates that we have to cross check the signature and date of birth of everyone who submits a postal vote. We go one step beyond to scrutinise the postal vote process and scrutinise bundles of postal votes returned. Postal votes returned are opened, scanned and monitored to identify unusual patterns. Any concerns are referred to the police for investigation.

"If you are concerned that you are being asked to do something which could be illegal, or you're being forced to vote in a certain way, please call our election fraud hotline on 01733 452282, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the police on 101."

Detective Chief Inspector Tom Rowe, from Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said: "We are working closely with the city council to ensure the elections in Peterborough run smoothly and in an honest and transparent manner. Our role is to police without fear or favour, and we will carefully balance the need for freedom of speech and expression, with the need to consider if actions do amount to criminal and threatening behaviour.

"People can be rest assured that any suspected corrupt practices will be treated very seriously and action will be taken if any offences come to light. The electorate must have complete confidence in the integrity of the system and our operation will seek to ensure that's the case."