NEW guidelines have been implemented preventing serving police officers in Lancashire accepting gifts, or hospitality, except of a trivial nature.

The new rules, implemented by Home Secretary Theresa May, are said to prevent important officers putting themselves in a position where ‘people could feel that they are being influenced by the receipt of such gifts’.

The report, written by the Association of Chief Police Officers, states officers should have a ‘blanket non-acceptability’ approach to gifts and hospitality, and that they should take a ‘common sense’ approach to the provision of light refreshments and trivial, inexpensive gifts.

This means officers are banned from being wined and dined by journalists, members of the public, or business leaders.

However, officers are able to use their discretion to accept small tokens of thanks from victims, or communities as long as they are entered into a single force register.

In a report, presented to Lancashire Police Authority’s Audit and Standards Committee, DCI Neil Gregson said: “The guidance makes clear the expectation of a single force register of gifts and hospitality.

"The guidance also includes more definitive details and examples of the boundaries of acceptability, and makes clear the distinctions that exist in a spectrum whereby one extreme can be properly considered bribery, through to low-level hospitality which could in no way be considered as a breach of integrity.”

The new policy is a reaction to the Leveson Inquiry, an ongoing public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press after the News International phone hacking scandal.

Ms May told the inquiry officers will be banned from accepting any free hospitality from journalists, except for ‘light refreshments’.