Convicted drug users and thieves will be allowed to join police: Rules relaxed in bid to lure minorities – and London is already recruiting criminals.
The Mail Online reports: Convicted criminals will be allowed to join the police under plans to relax strict entry rules that critics fear will undermine standards.
For the first time, candidates will be considered if they have convictions, cautions or fines for offences likely to include possession of cannabis or shoplifting.
The Mail on Sunday has established that Britain’s biggest force is already recruiting those who have been on the wrong side of the law in a controversial attempt to increase race diversity.
It can also be revealed that all forces across England and Wales will be encouraged to adopt softer rules on who should be ruled out from becoming a police officer.
The College of Policing, which sets standards for the profession, is to publish a code of practice in the New Year on the vetting of would-be police officers.
It will set out a relaxation of the current rules – which ban anyone with previous convictions, cautions or fines in all but the most exceptional circumstances – on the grounds that it is keeping potentially valuable people from becoming police officers.
Instead, the college will tell police chiefs they can take on applicants with criminal pasts, as long as they are open about what they did.
Those guilty of relatively minor offences, particularly those committed several years ago and which resulted in light sentences, are likely to be let in to forces.
Applicants who try to hide what they did, or who committed serious crimes involving violence, sex offences or fraud, will continue to be barred from a career in uniform.
And it will still be down to chief constables or personnel directors to make the final decision on a candidate. A spokesman for the College of Policing confirmed last night: ‘We are looking at reviewing the national standards around vetting. The current vetting standards are creating barriers to people who might be interested in policing. We need to look at this and apply discretion for minor convictions.’
But critics warned the move risked damaging public trust in the service, and claimed it was unnecessary as there is no shortage of highly qualified people who want to sign up.
Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: ‘The public need to have the utmost confidence that police officers are of the highest calibre and integrity and I have serious and grave concerns about anything which could undermine that.’
The current tough vetting rules, set out by The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in 2012, do not provide an all-out ban on recruiting people with previous, as each case has to be considered individually.