Force hits back over poll fraud inquiry

Simon Reevell MP
Simon Reevell MP
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WEST Yorkshire Police have denied claims by a local MP that they are failing properly to investigate allegations of electoral fraud emanating from within Dewsbury’s Asian community owing to fears over “community sensitivities”.

Dewsbury MP Simon Reevell told Parliament on Wednesday it was widely perceived within his constituency that postal vote fraud and voter intimidation were not acted upon by the police.

The force has angrily denied the allegation, insisting every complaint has been investigated fully and pointing out that it is one of the few police forces in the country to have a dedicated team of officers working on electoral fraud.

Chief Superintendent Dave Lunn of Kirklees Police, said: “West Yorkshire Police takes allegations of voting fraud extremely seriously and the force is seen as a national lead in this area.

“Protecting the integrity of our democratic voting system is a hugely important area of police work and West Yorkshire Police is one of only a few police forces to have a dedicated team of officers working on this type of crime.

“These officers work with forces around the country, as well as with the Electoral Commission, to improve the way voting fraud allegations are investigated.

“In the case of Dewsbury South, we have investigated every allegation that has been made since the May elections and will continue to follow any lines of enquiry brought to our attention.

“I can reassure residents that a number of people have been formally interviewed under caution in relation to allegations made. It matters not who makes such allegations or where they reside in the community – where there is evidence of offences being committed we will take positive action.”

Kirklees Council has also defended itself against any suggestion of inaction.

Chief executive Adrian Lythgo, who acts as returning officer in any local election, said he takes his responsibility to investigate fraud “extremely seriously” and has worked closely with police since May.