Pre-election period

A short guide to publicity during the pre-election period, known as 'purdah'.

What is the pre-election period?

The pre-election period, sometimes known as ‘purdah’, describes the period of time immediately before elections or referendums when specific restrictions on communications activity are in place. The term 'heightened sensitivity’ is also used.

About the guidance

This guidance provides advice on the publicity restrictions that should be observed during the pre-election period. It should be read in conjunction with any guidance produced by your own returning officer or monitoring officer, which provides specific advice depending on your local circumstances.

It is important to note that pre-election rules restrict activity wider than just publicity. Use of council facilities and resources; the member’s code of conduct, developing new policies and holding of events - including some meetings - featuring elected officials should all be carefully considered during a period of heightened sensitivity.

A short guide to publicity during the pre-election period

Please note: the local elections that were to take place in May 2020, have been postponed for a year.

You may also be interested in the guidance produced by the National Cyber Security Centre and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, which contains reminders around good cyber security practices for the systems that support the delivery of UK elections.