On 18 July, I informed the House that I was asking Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to consider instances of undue influence, inappropriate contractual arrangements and
other abuses of power in police relationships with the media and other parties and to make recommendations as to what needs to be done. I am pleased to tell the House that HMIC have concluded their review and have today published their report: “Without Fear or Favour: a review of police relationships”. A copy will be placed in the House Library.
The integrity of the men and women who work in the police service of England and Wales is critical to public trust in policing. Real or perceived conflicts of interest dent that trust and make policing by consent more difficult. The vast majority of police officers behave appropriately and conscientiously and I welcome HMIC’s conclusion that corruption is not endemic in the police service. HMIC do however identify a range of integrity issues on which the service is neither robust enough nor consistent in its approach. HMIC found that police force and authority leaders have, on the whole, failed to grasp the importance of integrity and are therefore insufficiently compelling in setting the values and standards that should apply across all aspects of policing, as well as in setting a personal example to their staff.
Where forces and authorities get this right and police officers and staff operate to the highest standards of integrity, it is because of the presence of strong and effective leadership by example, setting both the direction and the tone. I want all forces and authorities to recognise this and to aspire to the standards of the best. I welcome HMIC’s work and accept the recommendations they have made. It is now time for all police service leaders to work together urgently and constructively to agree and apply a coherent set of national standards of integrity and behaviour for police officers and staff.
HMIC’s findings will be supplemented in the next few months by the work that Elizabeth Filkin has been undertaking in the Metropolitan Police Service and by the view of the Independent Police Complaints Commission as to whether there are further powers necessary to enhance their ability to be able to hold the police service to account. The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) will also be concluding a review next summer into the extent of corruption by organised criminals operating in the public and private sectors, including recommendations for addressing this. The police service’s leaders should draw on these, as well as the findings that will emerge next year from the inquiry being led by Lord Justice Leveson. The standards they set need to give the public confidence in the integrity of those who police their communities, and the service’s leaders themselves. I will expect a clear set of proposals to be ready for wider consultation by spring 2012.
To support police leaders in this, the Government have been consulting on establishing a national professional body for policing, the scope of which I intend to say more on to this House shortly. This is in addition to legislating to make the inspectorate itself more robust, better equipped to act and to shine an expert light on policing.
I intend to accept the offer made by HMIC to re-visit these issues next October. In doing so, they will be able to offer the public, and the police and crime commissioners who will be elected in November 2012, a clear view as to the effectiveness of the service’s leadership on these matters, as well as the progress made towards both operating, and being clearly seen to operate, to the highest standards of integrity.seen at 08:38, 14 December in Written Ministerial Statements.
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