Voters’ names and addresses being sold off by council

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Voters’ personal details are being sold to estate agents, financial companies, and nursing homes by the council, according to a report.

Horsham District Council received £795 from businesses for names and addresses in the edited electoral register between May 2007 and May 2012.

Under current rules councils have to hand over names and addresses to companies that request them unless voters have opted out.

Figures were revealed by Big Brother Watch, an organisation that defends privacy, which condemned the practice and called for the edited register to be abolished.

While the full electoral register is used for elections, preventing and detecting crime, and checking credit applications, the edited register is available for general sale, usually for marketing purposes.

A spokesperson for HDC said annual voter registration forms have a column for residents to opt out with an explanation on the reverse of the form.

It added: “Until last year, if an elector had chosen to opt out in the previous year, a tick was printed in the edited register column which they could amend if required. However, it has now been made clear that we are not permitted to pre-print this column, as it is a year by year choice for the elector. Therefore, for this year’s canvass for the 2014 register, we will be enclosing a leaflet with every registration form alerting electors to the fact that they will need to tick the edited register column themselves if they wish to opt out of next year’s edited register.”

Geoffrey Richardson, a Horsham resident, said that all residents should be checking database websites to see if their details are readily available.