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Police: Complaints threaten confidence

Increasing numbers of complaints of sexual and racial harassment by police officers against their own colleagues is undermining public faith in the ability of the service to handle sensitive investigations, the Police Complaints Authority warned yesterday.

Launching the authority's 1996/97 annual report, Peter Moorhouse, the chairman, said the fact that three police authorities had voluntarily referred high-profile sex discrimination allegations for investigation suggested "an apparent inability within forces to manage gross disharmony between officers who should be colleagues."

The authority also highlighted continuing concerns about deaths in custody, calling for force doctors to possess skills in diagnosing psychiatric, drug or alcohol problems and for "urgent consideration" to be given to the introduction of closed-circuit television in at least one cell in police stations, so that high-risk prisoners could be kept under observation.