Police officers in Manchester, Bradford, London and Birmingham have commenced voter fraud inquiries after receiving complaints about “ghost” voters, false statements by candidates and multiple attempts to vote by a single person.
The investigation has surfaced after the Guardian contacted with police forces covering 16 areas that the elections watchdog has identified as being vulnerable to electoral fraud, particularly around the use of postal votes.
DI Ian Lawrie, of Protective Services (crime), said we have currently had 21 allegations of fraud that have been recorded for further investigation for election-related incidents. These include a number of matters under the Representation of the People Act 1983.
14 investigations were carried out across Greater London, according to a Metropolitan police spokesman. These included the arrest of two prospective councillors in Tower Hamlets, east London, and Enfield, north London, for false declarations on election papers. Police have also been asked to investigate allegations of intimidation and tampering with postal votes in East London.
In Greater Manchester, police have launched five inquiries – three inquiries into the eligibility of candidates to stand in the elections, one into a claim that a person had voted twice and another into claims of a false statement on an election leaflet, a spokesman said.
Thames Valley police said they had received eight allegations of minor misconduct relating to issues such as printing irregularities, four of which have been resolved, but had not received any claims of electoral fraud.
As a result of these incidents the Commission had given serious consideration to discontinuing postal voting in these areas to combat fraud. Following a public consultation, it was decided this would unfairly affect many ordinary and innocent people who needed to vote by post.
A spokesman for Lancashire police, who covers towns including Burnley, Darwen and Hyndburn, where there have been previous allegations of fraud, said they would only release information about electoral fraud if an application was made under the Freedom of Information