Reform of police forces is being blocked by membership of the Freemasons, the outgoing Police Federation chair Steve White has warned.
Previously some police figures such as former Met police commissioner the late Sir Kenneth Newman and those investigating police forces have warned that membership of the secret society should have no place in the police.
Steve White who stepped down after three years as head of the Police Federation on January 1, told The Guardian newspaper: “What people do in their private lives is a matter for them. When it becomes an issue is when it affects their work. There have been occasions when colleagues of mine have suspected that Freemasons have been an obstacle to reform.
“We need to make sure that people are making decisions for the right reasons and there is a need for future continuing cultural reform in the Fed, which should be reflective of the makeup of policing.”
The chair of the organisation that represents police Constables, Sergeants, Inspectors and Chief Inspectors in England and Wales warned that Freemasonry blocks the career progression of women and ethnic minorities both in the police and in the Police Federation.
He has spearheaded new regulations for the federation that will break the stranglehold of white men and over top posts in the Police Federation, which White said he hoped would prevent “Freemasons leading to an old boys’ network will be much less likely in the future.”
He revealed female colleagues in the police force were worried about Masonic influence on the police force and added: “I find it odd that there are pockets of the organisation where a significant number of representatives are Freemasons.”
“It’s about trust and confidence. There are people who feel that being a Freemason and a police officer is not necessarily a good idea. I find it odd that there are pockets of the organisation where a significant number of representatives are Freemasons.”
In the past as well as being linked to the progress and lack of progress of people in the police force, Freemasonry has been associated with investigations into cover ups and corruption. For example, notorious gangster Kenneth Noye, now serving a life sentence for murder, became a member of the Hammersmith Lodge in London after being proposed by two policemen. The murderer, police informant and associate of corrupt police officers was later expelled by the Freemasons for his criminal record.
Freemasons have always insisted that there is no conflict of interest in membership and that their organisation is based on values, carries out much charity work, and there are no bars to joining for anyone who believes in a higher spirit.
But aside from mixed lodges in some types of freemasonry, mainstream Masonic lodges only cater for men.