ELECTION day in Peterborough was marred by the news that three men were arrested on suspicion of electoral malpractice offences.
A major police presence in the city, particularly in the Central Ward covering Millfield and New England, saw the number of arrests made during this year’s elections rise to four, after a 31-year-old man was arrested in the city on Tuesday.
In Central Ward at 9am on Thursday (3 May), a man was arrested on suspicion of impersonating a voter.
He was taken to Thorpe Wood for questioning and was later bailed.
Then, Thursday evening, a 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of attempting to vote underage at polling booths in Seargeant Street and Harris Street, both in the Central Ward. Another man, whose age has not yet been released, was also arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting an underage person to vote.
City superintendent Dan Vajzovic said that police were robust in ensuring there was no foul play during the elections.
He said: “We have made three arrests today.
“We had a strong police presence throughout Peterborough from 7am and are very pleased with the results.
“We received information from members of the public throughout the day and we would like to thank them for their co-operation.
“We need to send out a message that electoral malpractice is not acceptable and we will clamp down on it.
“Our operation is not finished when the polling stations closed, they are ongoing and we were there all the way through the count.”
The main focus for police was on the Central Ward, which over the years has seen a number of incidences of alleged electoral malpractice.
This follows the high-profile convictions of several men, including Peterborough’s first Asian mayor Mohammed Choudhary and another former mayor Raja Akhtar, in 2007 and 2008 for fraudulently attempting to win Town Hall seats in the 2004 election.
As well as the three arrests, police have issued five appeals for information after more allegations of electoral fraud were made.
These appeals relate to Gilpin Street, where a man was reported to have attempted to impersonate a voter.
This happened twice more yesterday, according to Supt Vajzovic, at polling stations in Gladstone Street and in Harris Street.
There have also been two reports of attempted proxy voting, though there is no indication at this stage where that is alleged to have taken place.
Despite there being worries of altercations that marred last year’s count at the East of England Showground, proceedings at Town Hall went off peacefully.
As ever, there was a boisterous reaction to the result as Labour’s Nazim Khan was re-elected to the Central Ward seat ahead of Conservative candidate Mohammed Sabeel.
After retaining his seat, Cllr Khan admitted that there were always worries over elections in the Central Ward, but said that with the highest city turnout of 54 per cent, there’s no doubt that there is real interest in politics in the area.
He said: “There’s always some concern over this but it’s a place where people are interested, passions are high and feelings are rife.
“It gets people excited.”
Full Peterborough City Council 2012 election coverage: www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/elections
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