The Electoral Commission

The independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK

Section menu

Electoral fraud responsibilities

Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers

Local Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) and Returning Officers (ROs) manage elections, and are uniquely placed to detect and prevent electoral fraud. They should have robust plans in place to identify any suspicious behaviour and should work with the police to investigate any potential electoral fraud.

We have produced a guide for voters at election time. It outlines what is and is not acceptable behaviour by friends, family and campaigners at election time. You can download a word version that you can reformat for use within your local authority.

The police and prosecutors

The police are responsible for investigating any allegations of electoral fraud. Every police force in the UK has an identified Single Point of Contact Officer (or SPOC) for electoral fraud, who provides specialist support and advice to investigators.

Prosecuting authorities (the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales, the Crown Office in Scotland, and the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland) are responsible for taking cases of alleged electoral fraud to court. They work closely with police forces to examine evidence about alleged electoral fraud before deciding whether or not to bring a prosecution.

The police do not work alone; the cooperation of local authorities is vital in detecting and preventing electoral fraud.

Police pocket guides

We also produce a pocket guide for police officers.

Policing Elections – Authorised Professional Practice (APP)

This guidance published by the College of Policing and supported by the Electoral Commission since 2014 replaced the Guidance on preventing and detecting electoral fraud in England and Wales previously published jointly by the Electoral Commission and ACPO. It extended the advice given to police by also providing tactical options, expectations, minimum investigative standards and evidence-based good practice for each key role.

The APP was produced by a team of police officers, electoral administrators and prosecutors with years of experience in electoral integrity matters. The work originally hosted by the Electoral Commission and ACPO, with the continued support of its successor body the NPCC, includes contributions from police officers at all levels, the Crown Prosecution Service and senior electoral administrators. All have given freely of their time to help shape this guidance, and we are very grateful for their contribution to this important document.

Guidance for Scotland

Guidance for Northern Ireland

Political parties and candidates

Political parties, candidates and campaigners are essential elements of a healthy democracy and they should be able to put their arguments to voters. Campaigners should encourage people to participate in elections, but should not do anything which brings into question the integrity of the electoral process.

We have developed a revised Code of Conduct for campaigners which sets out what is, and is not, considered acceptable behaviour at polling stations and in the community during the lead-up to polling day.

We will raise any concerns with the party or campaigner in question and will agree with them what they will do to stop a breach happening again.

Royal Mail

We have worked with Royal Mail to produce a quick guide for Royal Mail drivers and delivery staff about postal voting mail:

What do we do?

As well as providing guidance, advice and support, we collect, analyse and publish data from police forces about cases of alleged electoral fraud in the UK each year.

We also monitor the actions taken by others to prevent and detect electoral fraud, and we make clear where we think changes are needed to ensure the integrity of future elections.

Electoral fraud