Tower Hamlets targeted in voter fraud clampdown

Tower Hamlets has been singled out by a watchdog as one of a small number of local authorities where a clampdown on electoral fraud is needed.

The Electoral Commission is considering introducing ballot box identity checks and restrictions on postal voting to stamp out fraud at the polls.

Tower Hamlets will be one of 15 local authorities nationally – and the only one in London - to be monitored more closely by the commission during next year’s elections in light of a history of allegations of fraud at polls in the borough.

The commission has also called for police, electoral registration officers and returning officers to toughen up procedures ahead of elections next year.

Earlier this year it published a report into allegations of voter fraud in Tower Hamlets – but found insufficient evidence to bring prosecutions.

In its latest research, it found “strongly held views” that electoral fraud is more likely to be committed by, or in support of, candidates standing in areas with significant South Asian communities, specifically those with roots in parts of Pakistan or Bangladesh. Tower Hamlets has a large Bangladeshi population.

But it stressed that there was “an absence of robust evidence in this area” and said it will now carry out further work into the claims.

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The commission is due to publish its final review of electoral fraud in the autumn.

Opposition councillors have continued to insist voter fraud was prevalent during last year’s Spitalfields by-election, which Independent Councillor Gulam Robbani won by 43 votes.