Election 2008: A fair poll free of any irregularities

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A COUNCIL and police crackdown on fraud in this year's election appears to have ensured a fair process.

A COUNCIL and police crackdown on fraud in this year's election appears to have ensured a fair process.There was a show of strength by uniformed officers at polling stations intended to deter any attempts of fraud.

Speaking at last night's town hall count, divisional commander for Peterborough Chief Superintendent Paul Phillipson, said polling day had passed smoothly, with no evidence that voting irregularities had taken place.

It followed a day of unprecedented security around Peterborough's 72 polling stations in an effort to prevent a repeat of election fraud which blighted Central ward polls in 2004.

Yesterday, police officers and PCSOs patrolled outside entrances to polling stations in Central, East, Park and Ravensthorpe wards, while CCTV cameras were used to monitor voters arriving at the polls.

The force also had automatic number plate recognition systems, mobile CCTV units and multi-lingual interpreters at their disposal.

Chief Supt Phillipson said: "It has gone very well and there have been no significant reports of any issues."

After three men were jailed for rigging votes in the 2004 election, Peterborough's tough stance on electoral fraud has made national headlines.

Chief Supt Phillipson added: "I don't want that again for Peterborough. We want a clear and transparent process where people are safe to vote for whoever they want."

Earlier, deputy chief superintendent Gary Ridgeway, who co-ordinated the police operation, said: "There were no incidents of disorder or impersonations. People have been really pleased with the police presence.

"Many of the candidates have worked with us to identify anyone who may not be who they say they are.

"Our officers, who have language skills, have even been able to reassure voters who have been uncertain about the procedure that once they put a cross in the ballot box no one can know who they have voted for."

Council chief executive Gillian Beasley said: "People can have confidence in this result because measures that have been put in place have ensured that the vote was carried out within the law."

Mrs Beasley also revealed the city council is to write a report on tackling election fraud, after the Electoral Commission said it could be adopted as "best practice".

As part of the drive to reduce election fraud, the council sent out blank registration forms to be filled in, resulting in more than 8,000 people dropping off the electoral register.