Police 'should show links with masons'

All police officers should be required to declare whether they are freemasons, the Police Complaints Authority said yesterday in a move which will put pressure on police in masonic lodges to end their secrecy.

The PCA said disclosure of freemason membership by police officers was needed to allay the suspicions of the public. The call was made by Sir Leonard Peach, PCA chairman, in evidence to the Commons home affairs select committee, which is conducting a separate inquiry into the masons.

Sir Leonard said that given the extent of public concern about the police investigating their colleagues, "it would clearly be an advantage if those investigating complaints declared their membership."

The requirement to disclose membership could show the extent of the network of masons in the police. It is known that a number of senior officers are masons. But the disclosure is certain to deepen the rift between the police and the PCA. The Police Superintendents' Association warned the committee: "Over the past two years our confidence in the impartiality of the PCA has been shaken. Many of our members no longer see the PCA as being truly independent." The Police Federation, which represents police men and women down to beat level, said the PCA did not have the confidence of the rank and file.