POLITICIANS have voiced their concerns over an increased number of abuse and criminal damage incidents in the build up to next week’s General Election.

Candidates are at the height of their campaigns as polling day looms on Thursday, December 12, but many incidents have sparked fears about a descent in behaviour from members of the public.

Last week, Green Party candidate for Christchurch Chris Rigby received one of his own campaign leaflets in the post. However, it had been defaced with the words “snowflake” and “undemocratic”. It also had the words “what a bunch of think (sic) treehuggers, you are unelected” scrawled in black permanent marker.

Discussing the tarnished flyer, Mr Rigby’s account posted: “Sadly it’s part of running for public office these days. Fortunately I can brush it off, and it’s not as bad as some people running have to suffer.”

Meanwhile, Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrat candidate Vikki Slade had a campaign board stolen from outside her house.

Ms Slade said the culprit(s) would have had to step foot on her property to remove the sizeable hoarding.

“It is really disheartening and it is unpleasant,” she said. “I am quite lucky as we are an established party, so we have an office where stuff goes to usually. Volunteers will see it, which is disappointing, and I will not see them unless they are sent to my house.

“The most frightening thing is when you get something like that and it is anonymous.

“You could go out and knock on that person’s door and you would have no idea. For me that is the most worrying aspect. If people don’t like you they can ask you not to knock at their door but if they send stuff anonymously or steal you property it is more concerning.

“They wouldn’t come into my front garden and steal something else.

“It should not be acceptable, but what is the alternative? You just have to take it.”

Bournemouth East candidate and former defence minister Tobias Ellwood (left) said the abuse “sadly reflected frustrations of politics as a whole and with Brexit but that is still no excuse”.

He said the situation on the doorstep while canvassing had not changed massively due to the direct face-to-face interaction, but added that online platforms allow people to act in a different manner.

“We should be able to disagree with people on issues but in a respectful and polite way,” said Mr Ellwood.