Police on the move to tackle corruption

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The Independent Online
Police officers in elite squads should be moved around frequently to stop them being tempted into corruption, the Government will be told today.

The Police Complaints Authority, which deals with allegations of police malpractice, will use its first meeting with the Home Office to urge a shake-up of specialist crime units in England and Wales to prevent "endemic corruption".

Peter Moorhouse, chairman of the PCA, is also expected to call during discussions with Alun Michael, the Home Office minister, for officers suspected of falsifying evidence or taking bribes to be subject to the same kind of disciplinary procedures as other workers, and for an end to officers evading punishment by retiring on health grounds.

Mr Moorhouse believes officers serving in the country's six regional crime squads should be regularly rotated to prevent them forming close bonds with local criminals. The concerns come in the wake of last month's criticism of the South East Regional Crime Squad, when a judge threatened 20 detectives with contempt of court after a drugs case collapsed because evidence had been destroyed.

Mr Moorhouse said yesterday that the failure to rotate officers led to "endemic corruption - corruption of evidence or financial corruption".

An authority spokesman said yesterday: "The question of how long officers spend in these squads has been on the agenda since November 1991 when we produced a report on the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad. Yet the debate still continues."

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said officers' deployment must remain a matter for chief officers. Paul Whitehouse, Chief Constable of Sussex and vice-chairman of Acpo's personnel and training committee, said corruption was "the exception, not the norm". Acpo agrees, however, with Mr Moorhouse's call for a change in the standard of proof needed to discipline corrupt officers.