REASSURING THE public of the police’s integrity must be the first priority if the profession is to move on from scandals such as Hillsborough, the Home Affairs Select Committee has said.
In a report published today, it warned there was an “alarming lack of consistency across forces” in England and Wales, which were still failing to embed the College of Policing’s Code of Ethics. The committee said the Code of Ethics should be viewed by serving officers as having the equivalent status of the Hippocratic Oath.
There should be no ‘postcode lottery’ in how we are policedKeith Vaz MP, Home Affairs Select Committee chairman
It also wants to see the Code and Conduct regulations consolidated and made enforceable, under the control of the College.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz MP said: “The College of Policing continues to be a vital part of the new landscape of policing.
“However, there is an alarming lack of consistency across police forces, and the College of Policing faces significant challenges in implementing a national approach to raise standards. A police officer in Leicestershire should be judged by the same criteria as one based in Suffolk. There should be no ‘postcode lottery’ in how we are policed.”
The committee has recommended the creation of a standard recruitment process with standard entry requirements for people who want to become police officers in England and Wales, and referenced the UCAS system used by universities.
It also looked to Scotland, where all new recruits are trained at the same place, by the same people, with best practice and national standards embedded from the very beginning of their careers.
Mr Vaz said: “There is much to learn from the Police Scotland model of one recruitment process and one training college. The implementation of regional training hubs in England and Wales, overseen by the College of Policing, would ensure consistency in the training of new recruits.”
The report also examined the College’s role in providing help and training overseas, and was highly critical of the Government for refusing to provide details of those contracts.
It said: “It has worked with almost 60 different countries but that list includes those with regimes where human rights and civil liberties are either non-existent or where abuses occur on a regular basis. It has been suggested that by providing policing assistance to countries such as Saudi Arabia the College may indirectly be helping to facilitate the human rights abuses perpetrated by those regimes.”
Mr Vaz said the College faced pressures to increase revenues and did so by providing help and training to foreign countries.
“We welcome this, however the Foreign Office should not be hiding details of our contracts with foreign regimes, some with highly dubious human rights records, behind the guise of ‘commercial sensitivity’. There is no justification for this.”
“Withholding the terms of the provision of training threatens the integrity of the very brand of British policing that the College is trying to promote, it smacks of hypocrisy.”