The Home Affairs select committee called for a new national standard of training for police officers and for more recruitment and promotion of ethnic minority officers.
The report, called Police Training and Recruitment, said: "The Police Federation [which represents the junior ranks] told us that `training and development are in a parlous state. The majority of officers simply do not feel adequately trained in basic law or operational procedures to do the job'."
It added: "Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary told us that `there is a paucity of training for the majority of staff who do not undertake specialist roles or seek promotion'."
The MPs also said they were dismayed that a Police Complaints Authority survey had claimed 23 per cent of custody officers had no specialist training. The report concluded: "Knowledge of law and operational procedures are crucial to the basic role of a police officer, and it is essential that police officers keep up to date with changes in the law.
The MPs urged police forces to review their training and plug any gaps in knowledge. They said there should be minimum standards in baton training, which vary from force to force.
The MPs also said that "the present under representation of ethnic minority officers in the police service is not acceptable". They expressed concern that ethnic minority officers are promoted at a slower rate than their white colleagues and called for research into the reasons.
r The Government stepped up its drive to recruit ethnic minorities to the civil service yesterday. Jack Cunningham, the Cabinet Office Minister, announced new measures which include a mentoring scheme, the appointment of a senior ethnic minority adviser, and encouraging youngsters from ethnic minorities to take up work opportunities.
r Police Training and Recruitment is available on 0345 585463, price pounds 10.60.