Making sure people can vote with confidence is a top priority for Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire Police as efforts to combat potential election fraud are increased in the run up to the General Election on 8 June.
Peterborough’s work to deter electoral fraud has been recognised nationally and the city council and police are continuing this with their awareness raising campaign this year.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary has once again set up a dedicated team to work jointly with the city council to investigate any allegations of electoral malpractice. The council has also, like previous years, opened an election fraud hotline for people to report any concerns.
The police will investigate any reports of corrupt activity with allegations being treated seriously and prosecutions brought if evidence of wrongdoing is uncovered. There will also be an increased police presence in the city on polling day.
Acting Returning Officer Gillian Beasley said: “People are entitled to use their vote with confidence and there will be no let up in Peterborough to investigate anyone attempting to fraudulently influence the election process. We are working closely with the police and want to send the message loud and clear that attempts to intimidate or cause fear to voters will not be tolerated.
“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) 452277.”
In addition to the hotline there are a number of other initiatives to combat voter fraud, including stringent checks on postal votes.
Postal voters are required to provide their date of birth and signature on a postal voting statement when returning their postal ballot papers. By law, the acting returning officer is then required to undertake personal identifier checks and these have now been a feature in Peterborough for nine years.
A publicity campaign including posters, leaflets and new videos has also been launched to remind people of the signs to look out for if they suspect fraud and to be vigilant when voting either by post or at a polling station. More information can be found on the council’s website.
In a step further, the council has applied to the Cabinet Office to trial voter ID at polling stations. If approved, this could be operational from 2018.
Chief Inspector Laura Koscikiewicz, who will be leading the operation for Cambridgeshire Police, said: “We are working closely with the city council to ensure the elections in Peterborough run smoothly and in an honest and transparent manner.
“People can rest assured that any corrupt practices will be treated 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.”
The city council’s election fraud hotline is (01733) 452277. Any concerns will be referred to the police for investigation.
Alternatively, residents can call the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If residents believe an offence is in progress they can contact the police on 999.
For general enquiries about the elections call (01733) 452249.