Guidance issued on ERO's consent to investigate (and "victim" of) electoral offences

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Crown Prosecution Service should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Joe Llywelyn Griffith Blakesley

Dear Sir/Madam,

North Wales Police have informed me* that, in line with national procedures, they only investigate electoral offences when they are referred to them by the relevant electoral returning officer as (s)he is defined as the "victim" of any such offence (as opposed to the electors and candidates).

As I was unable to find further information on this at http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/d_to_g/elect... , I would be grateful if you would confirm whether the CPS has issued any guidance to police forces in relation to who the victim(s) of electoral offences (or any particular electoral offence) are, or whether such offences may be prosecuted by the CPS or investigated by a police force without the consent of the relevant ERO. If such guidance exists I would be grateful if you would inform me of the detailed circumstances in which it may apply, including (but not limited to) whether it applies to offences committed by the relevant ERO. If such guidance does not exist, I would be grateful if you would inform me of which public bodies might issue such guidance.

The Preferred Format for all information requested above is an e-mail attachment in a transparent, machine-readable form.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr. Joe Llywelyn Griffith Blakesley

(North Wales Green Party Elections Co-ordinator)

--

* in explanation of their repeated failures to investigate an incident reported to them in April 2008 (incident number: J071806), provide the name or contact details for the officer responsible for investigating that alleged offence or contact me as the reporter of the incident to give an explanation for their failure to do so despite my contacting them on numerous occasions.

The incident involved an alleged offence of making a false statement in nomination papers under section 65A of the Representation of the People Act 1983 as amended by paragraph 5 of schedule 6 to paragraph 1 of section 15 of the Representation of the People Act 2000 which was brought into force by paragraphs 1, 2 & 4 of article 2 of The Representation of the People Act 2000 (Commencement) Order 2001 [S.I. 2001/116]. However, I am interested in how your guidance may apply to any electoral offence.

Freedom of Information Unit, Crown Prosecution Service

1 Attachment

Councillor Joe Llywelyn Griffith Blakesley

[1][email address]

Our ref: 1577

Dear Councillor Blakesley

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 REQUEST

Thank you for your Freedom of Information Act request which was received
on 23 December 2009. In that request you asked for information about
electoral offences.

Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 creates a statutory right
of access to information held by public authorities i.e. the Crown
Prosecution Service. This right is to be informed whether the information
requested is held by the public authority or not, and if the information
exists, for it to be communicated. A public authority must reply to such a
request promptly and in any event, not later than twenty working days
after receipt.

The individual's right to information is not unqualified and subject to a
number of exceptions and exemptions that are contained within the Act. The
majority of these exemptions are qualified, that is to say the decision
whether to confirm or deny the information's existence or to disclose the
requested material, will be subject to a public interest.

The Freedom of Information Act is a public disclosure regime, not a
private regime. Any information disclosed under it is thereafter deemed to
be in the public domain, and therefore freely available to the general
public.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) does not issue guidance to police
forces in relation to who constitutes a "victim" in the context of
allegations of election offences. The Director of Public Prosecutions (
DPP) or his nominated representative has, by virtue of Section 181 of the
Representation of the People Act 1983 ( the "RPA"), a statutory duty,
where information has been given to him that any offence under that Act
have been committed, to make such inquires and instigate such proceedings
as appears to him to be required. The DPP as head of the CPS exercises
this duty through the CPS. The consent of the Returning Officer in the
relevant local government area or Parliamentary constituency is not
required before proceedings under the RPA are instituted. Whilst
responsibility for such proceedings rests with the CPS, the duty to
investigate allegations of breaches of electoral law, as with any criminal
offence, rests with the police. The Electoral Commission issues guidance
on the prevention and detection of electoral malpractice annually to the
police.

If you are unhappy with the decisions made in relation to your request
from the Crown Prosecution Service you may ask for an internal review
within two calendar months of the date of this letter. If you wish to
request an internal review, please contact the Freedom of Information Unit
(Appeals), 50 Ludgate Hill, London, EC4M 7EX.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely

Information Management Unit

Crown Prosecution Service

22 January 2009

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Joe Llywelyn Griffith Blakesley

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for the prompt response. That answers my original request. I may send another request seeking clarification of how this applies more generally to offences you prosecute at some time in the future.

Yours faithfully,

Joe Llywelyn Griffith Blakesley

Niklas Smith left an annotation ()

This request is wrongly classified - a response was received and accepted as answering the question by Cllr Blakesley. Please reclassify this to "Successful".

Francis Irving left an annotation ()

Blog post by Craig Murray about "treating", referring to the response to this request:

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2...

John Cross left an annotation ()

The blog post by Craig Murray is part of a collection that has been selected for permanent preservation by the National Archives: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.u...

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