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Elections: Tower Hamlets

Question for Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

UIN 5938, tabled on 7 July 2015

To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what performance grade the Electoral Commission gave to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on (a) electoral integrity and (b) electoral registration on each occasion since the Electoral Commission began its performance management regime; and whether the Commission judged that that Borough had exceeded the required standards in those categories on those occasions.

Answered on

15 July 2015

The Electoral Commission’s performance standards framework is for Returning Officers (RO) and Electoral Registration Officers (ERO), not local authorities. There are separate standards for each role and each has elements relating to the RO and ERO’s responsibilities for supporting electoral integrity.

Between 2008 and 2013, the ERO for Tower Hamlets was assessed as ‘meeting’ or ‘above’ all the ERO standards (including the integrity standards) each year. From 2014, the Commission’s standards for EROs changed to reflect the transition to Individual Electoral Registration. The ERO was assessed as meeting the first standard (which related to public engagement activities) in 2014. The Commission will report on the second standard (implementation of their plans) following the canvass taking place in late 2015.

Between 2009 and 2013, in the years in which elections were held, the RO for Tower Hamlets assessed their performance as meeting or above the standard. In 2014, a new performance standards framework for ROs removed self-assessment. The Commission was unable to confirm a performance standards assessment for Tower Hamlets following the May 2014 elections due to a petition that concluded in April 2015 but will be making its performance assessment shortly.

Performance standards are not the only measure of addressing integrity issues and the Commission expects more from EROs and ROs in areas where there is a history of electoral fraud allegations.

In March 2013 the Commission undertook a review of complaints and allegations made at elections in Tower Hamlets in 2012, and made recommendations to all those involved in upholding the integrity of elections in the borough in order to rebuild confidence and trust. The Commission published further updates on progress in Tower Hamlets in July 2013 and April 2014.

Tower Hamlets was identified by the Commission, prior to the May 2014 elections, as one of 16 areas nationally which were at higher risk of allegations of electoral fraud. In the months leading up to the May 2014 elections, the Commission closely monitored progress towards implementing those recommendations, meeting the RO for Tower Hamlets and the Metropolitan Police regularly to review their plans, and attending briefing meetings for prospective candidates. This work continued ahead of the May 2015 polls.

Answered by

Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission