Voter intimidation complaints at Tower Hamlets elections despite strong police presence

By Rachel Bishop on May 27, 2014 3:33 PM |

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Concerns have been raised about voter intimidation at Tower Hamlets elections last week, despite police stating there was a heavy police presence throughout the process.

The Electoral Commission confirmed that despite concerns being raised, police had not received any criminal allegations relating to voter intimidation at polling stations.

Acting Superintendent Helen Lewis, of Tower Hamlets police, said: "Although we have received no allegations of harassment, intimidation or fraudulent behaviour at polling stations in Tower Hamlets we would, of course, be keen to speak with anyone who has concerns.

"If you saw anything that you believe amounted to criminal activity, please call the police on 101. Your information will be treated with the utmost discretion."

Ahead of the elections Tower Hamlets Council said police would be stationed at each of the 145 polling stations in the borough to combat voter intimidation.

They have strongly denied numerous allegations made online that some polling stations did not have a police presence.

The borough was named as one of the 16 areas in the country that the Electoral Commission identified as being at "high risk" for vote-rigging and bullying.

In a statement released today, the Electoral Commission also said it will conduct a review into what happened at the Bromley South count, which is still yet to be completed five days after voting closed.

According to a statement from Tower Hamlets Council, this is because "'the result is looking very close in this ward and accuracy is of paramount concern."

An Electoral Commission spokesman said: "Everyone should be able to vote free from intimidation and be confident that their vote is safe.

"It is also important that elections produce results voters can have confidence in and that candidates know the outcome as soon as possible.

"Clearly there have been issues at the Tower Hamlets count and we need to make sure we understand what happened, and the reasons for it, before reaching any conclusions.

"As part of our review we will be talking to the Returning Officer and Regional Returning Officer. We will be looking closely at what happened during the count, as well as the planning that took place beforehand."

A council spokesman said: "We will review our practice following the elections but broadly the new measures worked well and allegations of wrongdoing were investigated swiftly by the Returning Officer and where necessary by the police."