Press release

Sir Eric Pickles to examine electoral fraud

Sir Eric Pickles, the Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion, is to review electoral fraud and make recommendations.

The Cabinet Office today announced that Sir Eric Pickles, the Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion, is to review electoral fraud and make recommendations on what more could be done to tackle it.

The government has made great strides in improving confidence in the electoral system in recent years, with Individual Electoral Registration making sure that checks are in place to make sure everyone on the electoral register is who they say are.

The review announced today will determine whether changes are needed to make the system more secure, and make recommendations as to what those changes should be.

John Penrose, Minister for Constitutional Reform, said:

Most people feel British elections can be trusted to deliver whatever people have voted for. But, in a changing world, we can’t rest on our laurels. We must spot new or growing weaknesses in our election system, and fix them before they turn into a problem like Tower Hamlets. Sir Eric’s work will provide the facts we need to do this properly and, with his years of experience with local government, he’s the perfect man for the job.

The Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion, Sir Eric Pickles said:

The government’s roll out of Individual Electoral Registration across Great Britain is a significant advance in creating an electoral register that is secure from fraud. It is important that we now look at other parts of the system to identify what more can be done to improve electoral integrity.

The British system is among the world’s most trusted democracies, but it is essential that it remains so. The recent election court ruling in Tower Hamlets is a wake-up call that state bodies need to do far more to stamp out corruption and restore public confidence. Financial and electoral sleaze go hand in hand – if a dodgy politician is willing to break election law, they will not hesitate to syphon off taxpayers’ money for their own ends.

The levels of reported incidents and allegations of electoral fraud in the UK do not suggest electoral fraud is widespread, but we cannot know how much goes undetected. It is important that we close down any opportunities to commit fraud, whether that is on the basis that actual evidence shows that vulnerabilities are being targeted by fraudsters, or because there is a potential risk or weakness in the system.

The government believes it is important to keep the electoral system under review, to ensure that it remains robust and that measures are in place to continue to deter and prevent attempts to commit fraud.

The review will be led by Sir Eric Pickles in his role as Anti-Corruption Champion. A call for evidence will be issued as part of the review. Views will be sought from bodies such as the Electoral Commission and the Law Commission as well as those involved in running elections and lawyers and academics with an interest in the field and law enforcement agencies such as the police and Crown Prosecution Service which deal with such allegations and offences among others. The consultation period will last for 8 weeks, closing on 8 October 2015.

Submit your feedback to the review: electoral.fraud.review@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

After considering all of the evidence, Sir Eric will provide a report to the Prime Minister with recommendations and proposals for change by the end of 2015.

Notes to editors

The Prime Minister appointed Sir Eric Pickles to be Anti-Corruption Champion in May 2015. His remit is to examine the impact of corruption on any aspect of the government’s work, and report with recommendations to the Prime Minister. Read more about the Inter-Ministerial Group on Anti-Corruption.

Terms of reference for Electoral Fraud Review: call for evidence

  • examine what steps are necessary to stop voter registration fraud and error, postal voting fraud, impersonation, intimidation, bribery, treating and undue influence
  • review the role of councils, the police and the Electoral Commission in deterring, identifying and prosecuting fraud
  • consider the recommendations of Richard Mawrey QC in his recent Election Court judgment on fraud in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets
  • recommend to government what practical changes are needed to legislation, guidance and practice

Submit your feedback to the review: electoral.fraud.review@cabinetoffice.gov.uk by 8 October 2015.