Some police barely literate: lawyer
Some police officers are "barely literate" because the educational requirements to join the service are so low, the lawyer reviewing police conditions has warned.
Tom Winsor said many criminal barristers "speak in contemptuous terms" of the quality of police evidence that is sometimes provided to them, and he claimed educational standards have fallen "significantly" since the 1930s.
But Home Secretary Theresa May rejected his comments, saying the police officers she spoke to on the streets are not illiterate, but are "committed and dedicated to getting on with their jobs".
Addressing police superintendents at their annual conference near Kenilworth in Warwickshire, Mr Winsor told them: "You may say that the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) will knock that out, but the CPS are overworked and are they the best? Well we can discuss that too."
He went on: "It seems to me that public safety is critical and we want the most all-round effective police officers. So I ask again, should it be higher, the entrance standard?"
Earlier, he asked the officers: "Why is the entrance test for a police constable now so low? The educational requirements, why are they so low?
"We looked at the basic questions, one of which is, 'You find a purse in the street, it contains a £5 note, four 20p pieces and five two pence pieces, how much is in the purse?' That's the standard.
"We've looked at the educational standards for the police from 1930 and 1946 and I can tell you they are very, very significantly harder."
Mr Winsor added he found it "astonishing" that officers had told him it was the result of trying to make forces more diverse.
"The answer that I was given, both by a former commissioner of the Met and by a serving national officer of the Police Federation, was it was lowered so as to get more diversity among the applicants," he said. I find that astonishing because if I was of that background I'd be insulted."