POLICE forces in the region have made “progress” in how they deal with integrity issues but more still needs to be done, according to a report.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) conducted an inquiry into how police forces deal with accepting gifts and hospitality and their relationship with the media.
The investigation was a follow-up to findings in an earlier report in 2011, which the Home Secretary commissioned to look into whether contracts were issued inappropriately. It also looked into whether there were abuses of power in police relationships with the media and other agencies.
The report did not find any evidence of corruption, but found most forces did not give guidance on interaction with the media, acceptance of hospitality and second jobs.
As a result of the report’s recommendations, forces were revisited this year by the HMIC. Both Durham Police and North Yorkshire Police were found to have made “some improvements” over integrity issues.
In 2011, Durham police were found to be keeping a record of the gifts and hospitality received by officers and staff on multiple registers in different locations, making it difficult to monitor any problems.
The information is now held on a single file. The account of contracts and procurement handed out by the force is now cross-referenced with the gifts register, which will flag up if a company provides hospitality and is then awarded a contract.
Durham Police were also found to have updated several policies such as use of social networking sites.
Four cases of potentially inappropriate behaviour on Facebook or Twitter by officers and staff in Durham Constabulary were found.
North Yorkshire Police also updated its media policy, outlining how relationships with the press should work, stipulating officers must notify the press office of all contact with journalists.
Between September 2011 and May 2012, the force investigated two instances of inappropriate disclosure to the media.