Police fear corruption accusations
Bobbies on the beat are so worried of being accused of corruption they are turning down cups of tea from members of the public, a report has found.
A detailed review found that police forces in Britain had made "great strides" in tackling dishonest behaviour among its staff.
The report, entitled Integrity Matters by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), found there is "no evidence to suggest that corruption is endemic within the police service".
But it warned there appears to be confusion among some officers about what gifts they can accept from the public.
The report said: "We also found examples of staff who refused to accept anything from members of the public including, for example, cups of tea when on foot patrol, because they thought that it was prohibited.
"That is an unfortunate result. HMIC is concerned that the focus on ensuring officers and staff act with integrity may be misconstrued by some officers and staff who believe that no gift or hospitality can be accepted."
It warned this may be "leading to some staff not interacting with the public as they normally would and being seen as distant".
The report went on: "This could adversely affect police relationships with communities and lead to a reduction in information being passed by the public to the police."
The report, published today, takes a detailed look at the state of corruption in police forces across England and Wales and what is being done to tackle it.
It warns that while significant progress has been made, more than half of the country's police forces are still not proactively seeking out intelligence on corruption.
It also warned that many police officers "do not trust" internal systems put in place to report their colleagues, which is likely to result in under-reporting of concerns.
In addition, some managers lack the confidence to deal with misconduct complaints involving black and ethnic minority officers, and so referred them on rather than dealing with them themselves, it was reported.
And it said many forces lacked the analytical resources to hunt down and prevent misconduct, making them "more vulnerable to corruption as a result of not having a fuller understanding of the nature and extent of the problems they face".
Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary Mike Cunningham said: "Police forces have made great strides in tackling misconduct and corruption and now they need to continue that work to focus on proactive, prevention work.
"At the moment over half of police forces are not seeking out intelligence on corruption proactively; this is a clear area for improvement where they can continue to demonstrate a culture of zero tolerance for misconduct and corruption."
Alex Duncan, head of professional standards at the Police Federation of England and Wales, blamed budget cuts for the lack of proactive anti-corruption initiatives.
He said: "As the report makes clear, it is vital that professional standards departments are properly resourced and while we welcome the fact that many forces have managed to achieve this despite a severe cut in their budgets in recent years, it is disappointing that some have felt it necessary to make savings in this area.
"This represents more clear evidence, if any were required, that it is impossible to reduce backroom services without damaging the service as a whole."