Letter: Police protection

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Sir: I was appalled to read of Kenneth Clarke's proposals for reviewing discipline procedures within the police service (31 March), as there is the possibility of having a system of double standards. It is a fundamental principle of English law that a person is innocent until proven guilty and that guilt must be proved 'beyond reasonable doubt'.

The same rule applies whether it is a minor or serious offence. Why then, should a police officer, when confronted with an allegation, have to accept a lower standard of proof? Why should he be treated any differently by the law he upholds, enforces and serves? In addition, why shouldn't a police officer be afforded the same right of silence as any other citizen?

I am all in favour of the discipline system being 'speeded up', as protracted inquiries cause undue stress for everyone involved. Chief constables already have unlimited powers when disciplining officers and have long accepted evidence that is of a much lower standard than would be accepted in a court of law. Can you imagine Mr Clarke QC, when he was practising counsel, accepting for his client what he is proposing for the police? I think not.

Yours faithfully,