In the Home Office’s first major policy response following revelations about the Hillsborough disaster and allegations against some of the country’s most senior police officers, the Home Secretary said extra funding will be ploughed into the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to restore public confidence.
The money will be taken from the forces’ own budgets, with police largely stripped of the power to investigate themselves.
A blacklist of struck-off officers will also be formed for the first time, in a bid to stop dismissed police from being recruited by other forces.
Vetting procedures will be tightened, chief constables will be required to disclose pay and perks, and all officers will have to provide details of second jobs.
And in a bid to crack down on police who attempt to dodge disciplinary hearings by resigning or retiring, proceedings will finish regardless of the officer’s departure. Such measures may have prevented disgraced Pc Simon Harwood from being employed at the time of the G20 protests, where he shoved 47-year-old Ian Tomlinson who later died.
Harwood had previously resigned in the face of disciplinary proceedings, and rejoined the service at a later date.
Mrs May said: “I do not believe there is endemic corruption in the police, and I know the vast majority of police officers conduct themselves with the highest standards of integrity.
“But it doesn’t mean that we should ignore the fact that when it does occur, police corruption and misconduct undermines justice, lets down the decent majority of officers, and damages the public’s confidence in the police.”
The announcement came on the day officers from Operation Elveden – the Metropolitan Police investigation into corrupt payments to public officials – made their 60th arrest.
The reforms also follow 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”.
Many of Yorkshire’s most senior police officers – including former West Yorkshire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison – have also faced misconduct allegations over recent years.
The majority of the new measures will be targeted at rank-and-file officers, however.
Around 200 police officers retire or resign each year to avoid disciplinary hearings, a report from Parliament’s home affairs select committee said this month.
The College of Policing, the recently-formed professional body, will set up and publish the national register for sacked police officers.
And if an officer is found guilty of misconduct after they have retired or resigned, they will be added to the blacklist by the College despite their departure.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the reforms were welcome, but “don’t go far enough”.
The West Yorkshire MP said: “Our duty in this house is to make sure police officers get the support they need, and have a proper framework of accountability to keep standards high.
“What (Mrs May) has announced is welcome, and responds to many of the concerns we have raised.
“But I urge her to look at them again because I remain concerned that they don’t go far enough, and they will not deliver what the police and the public need.”