Joint statement following investigation into alleged postal vote irregularities – Totteridge & Bowerdean, Buckinghamshire
Following a complaint made to Thames Valley Police relating to allegations of postal vote irregularities in the election for Totteridge and Bowerdean ward on Buckinghamshire Council in May 2021, the force launched an investigation.
An additional challenge was made under an election petition by an unsuccessful candidate.
The allegation in the Petition was that postal vote ballots had been tampered with by ‘persons unknown’.
The force’s investigation found there was no evidence to support claims that the conduct of any Buckinghamshire Council staff had led to postal vote tampering.
After a thorough recount under the direction of the High Court, it was also found that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that the election result should be quashed, and the Petition was dismissed.
Buckinghamshire Council Returning Officer Nick Graham said: “I am pleased that the High Court demonstrated that the Council’s election processes are safe, democratic and robust and a thorough Thames Valley Police investigation found no wrongdoing by council staff.
“The Council takes allegations of election fraud extremely seriously and we can reassure our residents that their votes do count.”
Thames Valley Police’s investigation involved more than 100 potential witnesses being spoken to, relevant documents being obtained through the courts and multiple in-depth forensic examinations of these documents being conducted.
Throughout the course of the investigation, Thames Valley Police continued to liaise with both Buckinghamshire Council and the Electoral Commission.
Chief Inspector Alex Ash, deputy local policing area commander for South Buckinghamshire, said: “Thames Valley Police takes all allegations of election malpractice seriously and will always carry out a proportionate investigation alongside relevant partners.
“Where election malpractice is identified and evidenced, Thames Valley Police will seek a prosecution, where there is a public interest to do so.
“On this occasion, there is insufficient evidence to support a prosecution, following a full and thorough investigation, and as such the case has now been closed.”