Guidance for Local Returning Officers administering a Police and Crime Commissioner election in England and Wales

Local Returning Officer (LRO) - role and responsibilities

As LRO, you play a central role in the democratic process. Your role is to ensure that the election is administered effectively and that, as a result, the experience of voters is a positive one. To achieve this, you will need to have in place an effective mechanism for liaising with adjoining LROs and with the PARO. 

You should set out at an early stage what each of you wants to achieve and what success would look like for you. 

As LRO, in your voting area you are personally responsible for the conduct of the election, including:

  • provision and equipment of polling stations1
  • printing of the ballot papers (unless the PARO has given notice that they will take on responsibility for this)
  • appointment of polling station staff2
  • conduct of the poll3
  • management of the postal vote process
  • the verification and counting of the votes for your voting area (unless the PARO has given notice that they will take on responsibility for this)4
  • transmission of the local total for the voting area to the PARO5

Your duties as LRO are separate from your duties as a local government officer. As LRO you are not responsible to the local authority but are directly accountable to the courts as an independent statutory office holder.

While you can appoint one or more persons to discharge any or all of your functions as LRO, you cannot delegate your personal responsibility for delivering the election. You can find further information in our guidance on the appointment of deputies.  

Police Area Returning Officer (PARO)  

The PARO is responsible for the overall conduct of the PCC election, and for liaising with and co-ordinating the work of LROs in the police area. 

The PARO has the power to give general or specific directions to LROs relating to the discharge of their functions at the PCC election, including directions requiring LROs to take specified preparatory steps or to provide any information that they have or are entitled to have.

Our guidance for PAROs outlines the role and responsibility of the PARO. 

Last updated: 26 May 2023