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Security guidance issued to help election candidates

05 December 2019

All election candidates have been issued with guidance to help them respond if they experience intimidatory behaviour or abuse during the election campaign.

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.

It has been jointly developed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Electoral Commission, the College of Policing and the Crown Prosecution Service, and will form part of 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 national level.

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

National Police Chiefs’ Council Chair, Martin Hewitt said: “As with every election, 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. Practical guidance issued today 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."

Candidates are advised to:

  • engage with their single point of contact within their local force for candidate security;
  • 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 are canvassing;
  • keep records of any intimidating behaviour or abuse;
  • conduct an online health check to ensure sensitive personal information is not widely available;
  • and report intimidation or abuse to internet service providers and social media platforms.

Candidates are also warned of potential signals that behaviour could be escalating – 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.