Tough strategy to catch corrupt police

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The Independent Online
POLICE OFFICERS who act as "whistle blowers" and inform on their corrupt colleagues will be offered witness protection, as part a package of measures to deal with illegal and unethical behaviour at Scotland Yard, it was announced yesterday.

Integrity testing, that includes leaving marked bank notes in police stations, the vetting of bank accounts and the use of undercover officers to spy on suspected wrong-doers, are all part of the anti corruption strategy.

Many of the measures are expected to be adopted by other forces throughout Britain in the coming years.

Sir Paul Condon, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said yesterday that the new strategy was the toughest and most comprehensive in the world. "It aims to ensure that there is no hiding place for those who are corrupt, dishonest or unethical," he said.

Officers prepared to testify against corrupt colleagues will be offered protection from possible intimidation or bribery. The support would include transferring the officer from his or her unit, and in extreme cases moving home and having panic buttons or alarms fitted at their new address.

Sir Paul said he wanted to tackle the police "culture" of protecting your colleagues, however dishonest. Specialist units, such as the flying or drugs squad, are considered the most likely place for corrupt officers to flourish because they come across most of the organised and wealthy criminals.

The measures are the latest, and most comprehensive, crackdown on malpractice by officers at Scotland Yard. There are now 46 officers suspended in connection with corruption investigations and 35 people, including 15 serving officers, have been charged. They are accused of a range of offences including supplying drugs, taking bribes, and stealing confidential information.

Sir Paul estimated that up to 250 officers are corrupt within his force and predicted yesterday that the new strategy would uncover more wrongdoing.

Among the measures to be introduced are integrity tests to include unethical behaviour, racism and sexism.

The financial records of officers suspected of taking bribes, selling drugs, or making money illegally, will also be checked. In addition drug testing will be carried out on officers suspected of taking illegal substances.

Secret alarm systems are to be installed to detect officers who try to gain illegal access to confidential information kept on computer.

Plans to introduce random integrity testing, reported last month, have been water down following furious lobbying by police associations which viewed them as an attempt to trick officers into making mistakes. Instead Sir Paul has promised to use undercover officers to secretly test others if they are suspected of corruption or unethical behaviour. As well as using drugs or cash as a lure black officers are to be used as undercover agents to catch out racist detectives.

Sir Paul said his officers are to be subject to the most stringent integrity tests in the world. He added: "What makes the corrupt behaviour of a tiny minority particularly appalling is that it damages the reputation of the service and undermines the good work done by the majority of our staff."

The Deputy Commissioner John Stevens, added: "Implementation of this strategy is non-negotiable, in the same way as integrity is non-negotiable."