This is Derbyshire: Calls for security staff at polling stations as cops probe complaints
CONSERVATIVES are calling for security staff to be brought in to man troublesome polling stations at election time. The suggestion from Tory election agent Philip Hickson comes as the police investigate alleged electoral malpractice at a polling station in Normanton.
As previously reported by the Derby Telegraph, officers were called to the booth at the Indian Community Centre, in Rawdon Street, last Thursday after reports that voters felt “intimidated” by some political activists outside. Police have now revealed it was one of seven complaints about election malpractice across Derbyshire which they are investigating.
Conservative candidates standing outside the polling station on the day claimed some Labour supporters were accosting voters. Detectives from the Derbyshire Constabulary Economic Crime Unit confirmed they were investigating the incident. Mr Hickson said he felt the council needed to consider security at future elections. “I do think the management of polling stations needs to be looked at by the council,” he said.
“We know some polling stations get more excitable than others and the council needs to make sure they conduct a reasonable risk assessment.” Baggy Shanker, spokesman for the city’s Labour group, said: “Our view is the police need to investigate and take action if they find anything is wrong.”
Dawn Gee was a Liberal Democrat candidate in the Normanton ward. She said: “I think that the council needs to have some serious briefings about what is and isn’t allowed and perhaps should think about additional security or a police presence at some of the stations.” Derby City Council’s returning officer, Steve Dunning, said a review of all polling stations would be taking place this year.
He said: “Staffing is something we look at each election, but we have provided additional staff in the past and if the Indian community Centre remains a polling place we could look at if it is needed there.” In addition to the incident in Normanton, police have confirmed they are looking into a further six allegations of malpractice across the county. One was in Erewash, four were Amber Valley and one was in Bolsover.
Police said one of the allegations related to the distribution of false statements about nominated candidates and the other allegations related to campaigning breaches where the printer and promoter details were not shown on campaign literature. A spokeswoman said: “Fraud investigators from the Economic Crime Unit will now begin inquiries to gather all available evidence prior to interviewing those suspected of involvement.
“Files will ultimately be forwarded to the Specialist Crime Division at the Crown Prosecution Service.”