Candidates standing in next month's general election have been issued with guidance to help them respond if they experience intimidating behaviour or abuse when they campaign.
The booklet 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 (NPCC), 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.
The Parliamentary Liaison and Investigation Team, 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.
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.
Here in Nottinghamshire this is being led by Head of Serious and Organised Crime Mike Allen.
He said: "This election is much more highly charged than perhaps has been seen in previous years for a number of reasons. It is also an unusual time of year for an election to be held, so that means it is likely to be dark when candidates go out campaigning.
"That is why this national advice and guidance has been issued and why we as a force will be on hand to offer support where it is needed. We all want this election to go as smoothly as possible for everyone’s sake. We will take any abuse or intimidatory behaviour very seriously and deal with it accordingly."
National Police Chiefs’ Council Chair, Martin Hewitt added: "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.
"Strong and varied views are the mark of a healthy democracy, but these should not cross the line into criminal abuse, harassment or disorder. There are serious penalties for those who are found guilty of criminal offences.
"We're not going to tell anyone to limit their campaigning or enthusiasm in any way - but we are taking precautionary steps ourselves and providing sensible advice to candidates."
The guidance gives candidates information about potential offences such as criminal damage, abusive or threatening behaviour, harassment, stalking, hate crimes and election related crimes such as false statements against a candidate’s character.