The police faces fresh scrutiny over integrity and standards after it emerged that forces had ignored guidelines to fuel a boom in second jobs for officers and staff.
More than 23,000 officers and staff earn second incomes – an increase of nearly 20 per cent in a year – raising questions about the ability of forces to prevent conflicts of interest.
A police watchdog found that officers had been allowed to earn income as driving instructors and training people in the use of equipment, such as Tasers, despite guidelines that prevent officers from taking such jobs.
More than half of the 44 forces in England and Wales did not even check their supplier lists to ensure they were effectively not paying their officers twice, according to a report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC)
Police are allowed to take second jobs if approved by superiors and there are no conflicts of interest.
But the HMIC study revealed that virtually all new applications to conduct outside work were approved with 3,714 agreed in the nine months to May. Britain’s biggest force, the Metropolitan Police, revealed this month that a tenth of its officers and staff had outside jobs including as a vicar, mystery shopper and toastmaster.
The number of inquiries into potential breaches of the rules have also increased sharply and resulted in 10 people leaving their jobs through resignation, retirement or sacking over period examined by inspectors.
A Home Office spokesman said: “It is the responsibility of chief constables to ensure that any secondary jobs held by officers do not harm the public’s perception of the police or result in any conflict of interest. The Home Secretary will put new proposals ensuring the highest standards of integrity to Parliament in the new year.”
The issue of second jobs was part of a wider anti-corruption report that raised concerns over issues including gifts to officers and highlighted a rise in corruption investigations. Police anti-corruption units are dealing with 245 cases per month compared to 151 in 2010-11. The cases under investigation included 364 for allegedly leaking information to criminals.
Relations between police and the Government are at a low ebb following the “Plebgate” scandal into the resignation of chief whip Andrew Mitchell.
Scotland Yard has launched an inquiry into a possible conspiracy after an officer wrote an email to his MP to back up the allegations of colleagues, without revealing that he was part of the same protection group.
The Government has compiled figures from official crime statistics to point to falls in crime in the two years since it took charge.