620 police officers to recieve anti-fraud training ahead of local elections in Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets Chief Executive Will Tuckley

Tower Hamlets Chief Executive Will Tuckley - Credit: Archant

Specialist anti-election fraud training will be given to 620 Tower Hamlets police officers ahead of May’s local elections.

The Met, The Electoral Commission and council officials are looking to avoid a repeat of the 2014 vote, which was marred by the illegal and corrupt practices of disgraced former mayor Lutfur Rahman.

“The spotlight of the London elections is going to be on Tower Hamlets,” said Tony Arbour, Conservative London Assembly member, during yesterday’s two hour committee grilling of police officers and election officials ahead of the vote.

Tower Hamlets’ borough commander, Chief Supt Sue Williams, said it was a “red day” for her officers, who will all be on duty to ensure the election runs smoothly and fairly.

Leave is restricted for all Tower Hamlets officers to show “how serious” the Met are taking their responsibilities.

Following the 2014 election the police were accused of making “major failings” by the chair of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee chair, Steve O’Connell.

This time round, whilst a vast amount of work is being done to protect the integrity of the elections, “we are going to be challenged,” said Will Tuckley, chief executive of Tower Hamlets Council.

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“Do I expect [the election] to be entirely smooth and without incident? No I don’t,” he told assembly members.

The main challenge for the council is the “churn” of people in Tower Hamlets, Mr Tuckley added.

He claimed the expanding and shifting population, as well as the large electorate of 190,000, means ensuring voters are all properly registered is a huge challenge.

Mr Tuckley said 800 people had been employed by the council to help with May’s election.

“It is a big undertaking and it is a considerable expense,” he said.

“But democracy and the integrity of democracy is really important.”

There will also be closer scrutiny of residences where more than five people are registered as living to avoid large numbers of people being incorrectly logged as living in the borough, opening the door to their ballots being faked.

Postal votes will also be more closely monitored than in 2014.

Signatures and date of births will be closely monitored to ensure they match council records to make it more difficult to impersonate somebody else.