Security guidance issued to assist candidates on General Election campaign trail

All General Election 2019 candidates are being issued with guidance to help them respond if they experience intimidatory behaviour or abuse during the ongoing political campaign that culminates with Ballot Boxes closing around the nation on Thursday 12 December.

‘Guidance for Candidates in Elections – When It Goes Too Far’ provides advice on the actions or behaviours that could constitute a criminal offence, when to contact the police and practical steps candidates can take to protect themselves. The advice offered has been jointly developed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), the Electoral Commission, the College of Policing and the Crown Prosecution Service and is forming part of the official candidate packs issued by the Cabinet Office.

Police forces have also geared up to provide a tailored response to candidates including providing security briefings and assigning senior single points of contact for candidate security. The NPCC will oversee reports and incidents at the national level.

The Parliamentary Liaison and Investigation Team, a national unit established by the Metropolitan Police Service following the tragic murder of Jo Cox, will be providing its expertise to local forces and election leads.

Martin Hewitt

Martin Hewitt

NPCC chair Martin Hewitt said: “As is the case with every election, the police will work to prevent and detect crime and enable the democratic process to proceed unhindered. We take this role extremely seriously. Abuse or intimidation of candidates in elections has serious implications for individuals and for our democracy. The practical guidance issued will help candidates stay safe on the campaign trail. All police forces will offer security briefings for candidates and have a senior officer responsible for this.”

Hewitt went on to state: “Strong and varied views are the mark of a healthy democracy, but these should not cross the line into criminal abuse, harassment or disorder. There are serious penalties for those who are found guilty of criminal offences. We’re not going to tell anyone to limit their campaigning or enthusiasm in any way, but we are taking precautionary steps ourselves and providing sensible advice to candidates.”

The guidance gives candidates information about potential offences such as criminal damage, abusive or threatening behaviour, harassment, stalking, hate crimes and election-related criminality such as false statements against a candidate’s character.

Candidates are advised:

Bob Posner

Bob Posner

*to engage with their single point of contact within their local force for candidate security

*to take active steps around personal safety to keep themselves and their campaign staff safe

*not to canvass alone and make sure someone knows where they’re canvassing

*to keep records of any intimidating behaviour or abuse

*to conduct an online health check to ensure sensitive personal information isn’t widely available

*to report intimidation or abuse to Internet Service Providers and social media platforms

Candidates are also warned of potential signals that behaviour could be escalating – ie threats of imminent violence, fixated ideas or release of personal information not already in the public domain – and to immediately call 999 in an emergency.

Electoral Commission CEO Bob Posner observed: “It’s vital that all parties and campaigners comply with election rules and campaign responsibly. Robust political debate is part of a healthy democracy, but sometimes things can go too far. Intimidating and abusive behaviour have no place in our political system. We will work closely with the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Crown Prosecution Service and the College of Policing to provide all candidates with the support and guidance they need to stay safe during this General Election campaign.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

Related Posts