Documents to download

Anonymous registration allows people whose safety would be at risk if their name or address were listed on the electoral register, for example survivors of domestic abuse, to register to vote without their details made public.

An application must be submitted to an electoral registration officer in writing and must provide certain evidence that the person applying is at risk.

The required evidence must be:

  • A current court order including an interdict, non-harassment order, a forced marriage protection order, an injunction, a restraining order a domestic violence protection order or a female genital mutilation protection order.

The types of order or injunction are set out in law, therefore other types of court orders cannot be accepted as evidence.

Or evidence may be submitted in the form of an attestation from a qualifying officer supporting the application:

  • An attestation is a statement that if the applicant’s name and address were on the register, the applicant’s or another member of the household’s safety would be at risk. Attestations must be in writing and must be signed and dated by the qualifying officer who must specify a period between one and five years for which it has effect.

A qualifying officer must be a refuge manager, registered medical practitioner (for example GP, nurse or midwife), a senior social worker, a police officer above the rank of Inspector or the Director General of the Security Services or the National Crime Agency

This briefing lists the types of court order and qualifying officers in Section 2.1.

Woman’s Aid provides guidance issued by the Electoral Commission on anonymous registration. It is available for download on its web page, Anonymous registration for survivors of domestic abuse.

The system for registering anonymously was introduce in 2006. In 2016 the Government committed to consult on reforming the anonymous registration. In March 2017 it produced a policy document, A democracy that works for everyone: survivors of domestic abuse Policy Statement, which contained proposals to extend the number of court orders that could be used as evidence.

The level of evidence had been criticised by some for making anonymous registration too difficult or complex for many. Women’s Aid criticised the system, saying that for women living in a refuge it was “an almost insurmountable challenge” to register to vote stating that. Many victims do not involve the courts and therefore do not have access to the appropriate court orders. The very senior levels of qualifying officers meant that it was difficult for survivors to access them. Women’s Aid experience of survivors of domestic violence was that fewer than half of domestic abuse survivors have involved the police or the criminal justice system and that health professionals were more likely to come into contact with victims.

The Governments proposals were to expand the types of permissible court orders to include Domestic Violence Protections Orders and Female Genital Mutilation Orders, both newer orders that were not included within the scope of the scheme (the scheme had been modified before to include new types of court orders).

It also proposed increasing the number of people able to act as qualifying officer. This included lowering the rank of police officer required to allow an officer to attest. The proposals also considered adding more junior social workers, refuge managers and registered health professionals to the list of qualifying officers able to attest.

Following consultation, the level of social worker able to sign off on an attestation remained at director level. However, the rank of police officer who can attest has been reduced to inspector, generally the rank of police force leads for domestic violence. Registered health professionals and refuge manners are also now included.

The changes to include the new court orders and expand the list of qualifying officers were approved in 2018. 

Documents to download

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