A former cabinet minister has criticised the Metropolitan Police for not taking strong action over vote fraud in Tower Hamlets in east London.
The government review of the country’s voting system released last Friday (12) found evidence of malpractice among Britain’s Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities.
In a report presented to prime minister Theresa May, former communities minister Eric Pickles called for reforms to the voting system, including piloting some form of identification at polling stations and warned political correctness was resulting in fraud going unchecked in south Asian communities.
“Evidence was presented of pressure being put on vulnerable members of some ethnic minority communities, particularly women and young people, to vote according to the will of the elders, especially in communities of Pakistani and Bangladeshi background,” the report said.
“There were concerns that influence and intimidation within households may not be reported, and that state institutions had turned a blind eye to such behaviour because of ‘politically correct’ over-sensitivities about ethnicity and religion.”
The review was commissioned after last year’s court case over postal voting fraud, which resulted in the disqualification of Lutfur Rahman as Tower Hamlet’s elected mayor in east London.
“Last year’s court ruling in Tower Hamlets was a wake-up call that state bodies need to do far more to stamp out corruption and restore public confidence.
“It was local residents who lost out from the crooked politicians who bullied them and wasted their money. The law must be applied equally and fairly to everyone,” said Pickles as he launched his findings and 50 recommendations.
“The worrying and covert spread of electoral fraud and state of denial by some bodies threatens our nation’s proud heritage as the ‘mother of Parliaments’. It is time to take action to take on the electoral crooks and defend Britain’s free and fair elections.” His review was set to examine the necessary steps to stop the corrupt practice which includes impersonation, intimidation and bribery.
It was also due to recommend to the government the practical changes needed to tackle the problem.
“This report will be an important contribution to our fight against all types of fraud in the UK. We will look closely at the recommendations,” explained Chris Skidmore, UK minister for the constitution.
A spokesperson for the Met police said the organisation was disappointed that Pickles has expressed such views in relation to no prosecutions being brought for alleged election offences in Tower Hamlets.