Letter: Masons and police

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Sir: In May this year, Merseyside Police established a register of interests in which all members of the force are asked to voluntarily register membership of any "secret society" and Freemasonry was used as an example ("Police chief defies Straw over Masons", 20 August). The move, in advance of many other forces, followed the Home Affairs Select Committee recommendation that police officers, judges, magistrates and crown prosecutors should be required to register membership of such societies.

Because of public concern, I believe it right that members of secretive societies should register their membership. The intention of Merseyside Police is to broaden such an approach to include other interests, which by their very nature may raise concerns over potential conflict of interest - however tenuous - amongst the general public. By establishing the register, we are demonstrating that we are open and accountable to the community we serve.

An open letter was sent to the Provincial Grand Lodge of West Lancashire, explaining the force's position and to allay fears of members that a "witch- hunt" was taking place.

N G BETTISON

Chief Constable

Merseyside Police

Liverpool

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