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Period of heightened sensitivity

The term ‘period of heightened sensitivity’ is used to describe the period immediately before elections or referendums when specific restrictions on communications activity are in place. The terms ‘pre-election period’ and 'purdah’ are also used.

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) has issued guidance to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and their offices about the handling of purdah. To read the guidance in full, download it here Pre-election Period (Purdah) Guidance.

Key points from the guidance include:

  • The Code of Practice on Local Authority Resources prevents the use of public resources for party political purposes, which includes both the staff of the PCC and the police force, and the facilities and equipment of the OPCC/force
  • PCCs should also be careful not give the impression that the local police support a particular party, or use information about the police force in supporting local candidates which is not publicly available
  • PCCs should not invite politicians to use events or other forums, which the PCC has organised in their official capacity, for election campaigning or other party political purposes
  • PCCs cannot claim travel or other expenses for party political business
  • All public information about policing should be available equally to all candidates. However, if the PCC wishes to provide advice to candidates they personally support, they may only use their staff for factual checking of material (not production, reproduction or distribution), provided the information is already in the public domain

You can also find out much more about Purdah including frequently asked questions on the Local Government Association website.