Guidance for (Acting) Returning Officers administering a UK Parliamentary election in Great Britain

Working with your single point of contact officer

Every UK police force has a named single point of contact (SPOC) officer for election-related crime. Your local police force SPOC will be a key partner to help you to ensure that any possible integrity issues are quickly identified and dealt with. 

You should make contact with your named SPOC at the outset of your election planning process. Once established, you should maintain this contact throughout the election period. If you have any problems establishing contact with your SPOC, please contact your local Commission team.

Your discussions should cover your plans for maintaining the integrity of the election and your mechanisms for identifying possible issues and what actions should be taken where any suspicions arise. 

A checklist of topics that should be considered at any pre-election planning meeting between you and your SPOC is available to support your discussions. 

You should agree an approach with your SPOC for referring allegations of fraud you may receive for further investigation where appropriate. For example, will you be the initial point of contact and refer allegations to the SPOC, or will they be the initial point of contact and advise you of allegations? 

You should also agree a mechanism for handling evidence, so that the police can carry out any forensic analysis, where necessary. The College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice have provided guidance to local authorities for handling evidence.

In addition, you should take all necessary steps to ensure that police officers (which can, in England and Wales, include police community support officers) attend at polling stations or call in during polling day, as appropriate, and discuss any security issues relating to any other aspects of the process including community safety for voters.

You may also decide to undertake joint publicity work with the police to support your work in maintaining the integrity of the election. For example, you could collaborate on running public awareness campaigns within the electoral area to highlight what can be done to help detect and prevent electoral fraud. 

In England and Wales, a template memorandum of understanding between the Returning Officer and the police on the joint planning for elections and the reporting and investigating of electoral malpractice is available on the College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice website.

Police Scotland have provided guidance for Police Officers on preventing and detecting electoral fraud in Scotland.

Last updated: 19 December 2023