POLICE today vowed to crack down on election fraud in Kirklees.
Officers are working with council officials to ensure the elections are problem-free.
Postal ballot papers for the Thursday, May 1, local elections are being sent out.
This year will see even closer co-operation between the police, council returning officers, electoral fraud experts from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Electoral Commission to ensure the local elections are run fairly and safely.
The organisations have been liaising closely over the last few months to build on the experience of previous elections.
They will thoroughly investigate any allegations of electoral malpractice.
A West Yorkshire police spokesman said: “Any genuine allegations of electoral fraud will be treated extremely seriously.
“We are working closely in partnership with returning officers to share information to identify any suspicious activity.
“The suggestion that electoral fraud is taking place has the potential to undermine people’s faith in the voting system and therefore to undermine communities.
“Any allegation of a genuine attempt to cheat the system will be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken.
“I want anyone who is aware of any suspicious activity, or who feels someone is trying to unfairly influence them, to contact their local returning officer in the first instance.’’
Returning officers may then decide to refer some matters to the police for further investigation.
Guidance to returning officers states that anyone wanting to make an allegation of electoral fraud should have evidence and be willing to make a statement to police.
West Yorkshire Police will not take on unsubstantiated, third-party reports.
Rob Vincent, Chief Executive and returning officer for Kirklees, said: “Any complaints are acted on immediately and taken very seriously.
“We not only work very closely with the police, but with the political parties in emphasising very clearly to them and candidates the very serious nature, and consequences, of election fraud.’’
West Yorkshire Police and the CPS will consider any evidence of unlawful conduct. Prosecutions will be brought against offenders wherever the evidence permits.
The police force is also working closely with the postal services to ensure the safety and security of postal votes and delivery addresses.
Hundreds of pocket-sized guides, detailing the various types of electoral fraud offences, have been issued to officers across the force.
Also, training has been given to Neighbourhood Policing Team officers, who will go to any incidents at polling stations on polling day.