TWO staff members of Slough Borough Council who forged signatures and recorded false information on electoral registration forms have been sentenced by magistrates.
Zakhria Dar and Natalia Glowacka appeared in the Magistrates Court after attempting to rob the British electorate of their voice.
The pair had volunteered to be canvassers and to knock on the doors of people who had not filled in electoral registration forms. They were tasked with getting the residents to complete the vital information for the council and for residents who would be unable to vote without it.
However, instead of filling out the forms with the correct information the duo filled them in with false information and forged signatures.
Slough Council has issued the following statement:
“The forms were submitted to the electoral team who realised very quickly something was wrong during a routine sample check where the information did not match that already on the council system. A series of similar looking signatures were also discovered.
As a result more checks were conducted and it was discovered a large number of forms contained false information which had been completed by the employees who had been trusted with the job, rather than the named householder.
Zakhria Dar, 23, of Oatlands Drive, Manor Park, admitted one count of fraud on between 24 September and 1 December, 2018, and was sentenced at Reading Magistrates’ Court on 12 November, 2019. He was a housing officer at the time of the offence and resigned from his role after he was suspended during an investigation.
He was ordered to complete a 12 months community order, 220 hours of unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation days. He was also ordered to pay £2888.06 in costs and a victim surcharge of £85.
Magistrates told him: “It is worth noting that you were in a position of trust by your employers on matters that pertain to voting which is critical in a democracy.
“You were trusted to be fully compliant instead you took forms and signed them yourself without the rigour of checking who was in the accommodation.
“The impact of these actions could have a terrible affect on the voters in the accommodation should it have changed, and they would have become disenfranchised .
Kam Varaitch, prosecuting Dar, said: “These documents are integral to the electoral system as a whole.”
He said as a result of the incident the council had invested in an electronic registration system where tablets were used to capture the information as well as tracking canvassers whereabouts.
Natalia Glowacka, 26, of Trelawney Avenue, Langley, also admitted one count of fraud between 24 September and 1 December, 2018. At the time she was employed as a council housing officer, but resigned after being suspended during the investigation.
She was sentenced on 12 December and ordered to complete a 12 month community order, 50 hours of unpaid work and 10 rehabilitation days. She was also ordered to pay £800 in costs and a victim surcharge of £85.
Josie Wragg, Slough Borough Council’s returning officer, said: “This was a breach of trust not only to their employers but also the people of Slough.
“The voting register is an important legal document which affects a resident’s ability to vote as well as their credit status.
“This is an example of where we take such matters extremely seriously and will not only take internal action but pursue it through the courts.
“I am happy that our internal checking systems are sufficiently robust and this activity was spotted early. In Slough we take any kind of fraud extremely seriously and particularly as it relates to the democratic process.
“The actions of these defendants have resulted in a change in the way we collect information to prevent dishonesty in the future.”