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Extra duties for Met 'not helpful'

Scotland Yard should not be given any additional national policing functions in the wake of the upheaval caused by the phone-hacking scandal, MPs have said.

While a home still needs to be found for critical national services such as the DNA database, the Police National Database and the Police National Missing Persons Bureau, giving them to Britain's biggest force was not the answer, they said.

Such a move would not be helpful "either for it or for the police service as a whole", the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee warned. The MPs added that the scale of the Government's radical reforms to policing was unprecedented and the scope for mistakes "accordingly large".

Home Secretary Theresa May was trying to achieve too much too fast, creating a "climate of uncertainty" in which no-one could perform at their best, a report on the new landscape of policing found.

It said it was "unacceptable" that, with just over six months before the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) was phased out next spring, there were still no definite decisions about the vast majority of functions it currently performs.

But it warned that, given the resignations of the country's most senior police officer and the officer in charge of counter-terrorism operations over the phone-hacking scandal, Scotland Yard should not be given any additional responsibilities.

The MPs said: "Given the recent upheaval and uncertainty at the Metropolitan Police, following the resignation of the Commissioner (Sir) Paul Stephenson, and Assistant Commissioner John Yates, we do not believe that it would be helpful, either for it or for the police service as a whole, for it to take on any additional national functions at this time."

Sir Paul resigned as Met commissioner in July amid growing controversy about links between senior Scotland Yard officers and executives at News International, which published the News of the World, while the Sunday tabloid was being accused of illegally intercepting voicemail messages.

MPs added that the Home Office should also consider moving the UK's counter-terrorism command from Scotland Yard to the new National Crime Agency after next year's Olympic Games.

Keith Vaz, the committee's chairman, said: "The police perform a difficult and dangerous task on behalf of the public and the continuing uncertainty about the future of many of the bodies involved in policing has the potential to be very damaging."

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