Action to combat police corruption urged

Police officers in high visibility jackets walking away from the camera
Image caption HMIC inspectors looked at 44 forces for the report

Police forces in England and Wales must improve plans to combat corruption in the service, inspectors have said.

Investigations into corruption are rising but too few forces are gathering intelligence to prevent it happening, the Inspectorate of Constabulary found.

HMIC looked at issues such as how police interact with the media and the acceptance of gifts and hospitality.

Inspector of Constabulary Roger Baker said HMIC was concerned progress was "inconsistent" and lacked "urgency".

'Low' staffing levels

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary looked at 44 forces to assess progress against recommendations made in a 2011 report into police relationships.

Inspectors found in the progress report that although police forces registered gifts and hospitality, there was "little evidence" that chief constables were questioned about items they received.

Staffing levels in some anti-corruption units had fallen or were very low, inspectors found.

The report acknowledged it could be difficult to challenge people in senior positions but said checks must take place at "all grades and ranks".

It also found a further clampdown on the use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, was needed.

A total of 357 instances of potentially inappropriate behaviour were identified on social media, spread across 185 profiles, HMIC said.

Offensive language, comments on police procedure, negativity towards work and extreme opinions on government were among the examples, it said.

The Without Fear or Favour report found no evidence corruption was endemic in police relationships with the media and others.

But it revealed concerns that few forces provided any policy or guidance in relation to key integrity issues.

'More to do'

"HMIC found that the police service is responding to our 2011 report, Without Fear or Favour, by making improvements to how it identifies, monitors and manages integrity issues; but we are concerned that this progress is inconsistent, and lacks a uniform sense of urgency," said HM Inspector of Constabulary Roger Baker.

"Integrity is fundamental to the core values of the police and what it means to be a police officer. As such it must be at the heart of every action carried out and word spoken by police officers and staff.

"HMIC will therefore continue to monitor and inspect the service‟s progress in order to provide the public with confidence that all forces are adhering to high standards in these respects."

The Association of Chief Police Officers' (ACPO) lead on professional standards, Chief Constable Mike Cunningham, said: "This report, in common with other independent analysis from bodies such as the Independent Police Complaints Commission, confirms that the majority of officers and staff, at all levels, seek to act with integrity.

"Since 2011 the police service has for the first time introduced national guidelines covering gifts and hospitality, relations with the press and secondary employment. These changes are now being bedded in across the 44 forces."

HMIC said: "While some progress has been made, particularly by putting in place processes and policies to manage threats to integrity, more needs to be done.

"The pace of change also needs to increase, not least to demonstrate to the public that the police service is serious about managing integrity issues."

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