Now police are ordered to pay convicts for giving advice on fighting crime
By James Slack
Last updated at 12:44 AM on 15th October 2008
Police forces have been ordered to ask convicts to give them advice on fighting crime.
Criminals can join new groups which may be involved in the planning of major police investigations – including operations to tackle terrorism, people-smuggling and Class A drug dealing.
They will have their expenses paid if they join the Independent Advisory Groups which are being set up to address ‘diversity issues’.
Crime mates: Police plan to ask criminals for advice on operations such as this drug raid
The idea is that the panels act as ‘critical friends’, offering guidance on how local police are seen by the people they serve.
It is also claimed that by consulting over future operations – such as raids – the groups can tackle the ‘distrust of the police service endemic in certain minority communities’.
The Association of Chief Police Officers has told forces to advertise for volunteers – and added that criminals are welcome to apply.
The guidance states that there should be a ‘presumption in favour of appointing the applicant’.
They can even continue as advisers if they are caught committing a crime while serving on one of the panels, the document adds.
Some members are allowed access to confidential police intelligence, and will have to sign the Official Secrets Act.
The Tories have warned that although the scheme is intended to bolster confidence in the police, it could have the opposite effect.
Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve said: ‘There are some criminals who, because of the gravity of their past offending or the ongoing risk they present, should not be permitted to sit on these groups to avoid damaging public confidence.
‘It is far from clear how this very general advice will be implemented in practice, both to avoid harming the trust of local communities and protecting the confidentiality of police investigations.’
The guidance also states that there is an argument for not vetting any applicants.
Reasons given include the fact ‘the Gypsy Traveller Community may not have permanent or previous addresses for any vetting to be conducted’ and the fear of offending the ‘transgender community’.
It states: ‘There could be reluctance to reveal information about their previous identity, or current identity, that could jeopardise their privacy.’
However, the document concludes that some security checks should, in fact, take place.
A spokesman for Acpo said that criminals on the advisory boards would be vetted and screened.
She added that they would not have access to the Police National Computer.