Monday 26 February 2018

Plans to boost trust in police

Home Secretary Theresa May will announce new vetting procedures as part of an 'integrity charter' for the police
Home Secretary Theresa May will announce new vetting procedures as part of an 'integrity charter' for the police

The Home Secretary is expected to unveil a number of measures to boost trust in the police today that will see officers with a history of sexual harassment or financial misconduct barred from becoming chief constables.

Theresa May will announce the new vetting procedures as part of a new "integrity charter" for the police, The Sunday Times reported, while all 134,000 officers in England and Wales will have to register on a public website any gifts they receive.

The newly formed College of Policing will be asked to draw up a code of practice for vetting applicants for the post of chief constable and deputy to avoid cases where applicants fail to disclose sex harassment claims.

The move follows a series of high-profile scandals, including the police cover-up of their role in the Hillsborough disaster, the phone-hacking affair and the row over police claims that former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell called an officer a "pleb".

Most recently, the behaviour of undercover officers working for the Metropolitan Police's Special Demonstration Squad has inflamed the debate over police integrity. It has been claimed a number of officers in the SDS used dead children's identities to infiltrate protest groups without the consent of parents, while others engaged in sexual relationships with the women they were spying on.

It is also expected that police officers will have to disclose details of any second jobs they hold - around 20,000 hold second jobs, leaving them exposed to potential conflicts of interest.

A nationwide code of ethics is expected to reinforce the importance of "honesty and truthfulness", while a duty of candour will require them to blow the whistle on corrupt colleagues.

A total of 11 serving or former officers have come under investigation in recent months, including Sir Norman Bettison, who resigned as head of West Yorkshire over the Hillsborough scandal.

Earlier this month, policing minister Damian Green unveiled a far-reaching overhaul of recruitment rules for forces in England and Wales. In what normally takes a decade to achieve, military personnel, security staff and industry professionals will be able to enter the police force as superintendents.

A fast-track scheme aimed at both university graduates and serving officers will allow constables to rise to the rank of inspector in just three years, while foreign candidates will be able to apply for chief constable roles for the first time. Police chiefs said direct entry would increase frustration among ambitious staff already facing fewer promotion opportunities in the wake of 20% budget cuts.

Press Association

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