Police officers and crown prosecutors face being forced by law to disclose their membership of the freemasons and other secret societies after attempts get them to register voluntarily have flopped.
One force, South Wales, has a register for high ranking officers only. Seven others say they have plans for registers, including the Metropolitan police, where the commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, has attacked police membership.
However, that still leaves 32 forces yet to take action.
A similar exercise in which registration forms were sent to 2,097 crown prosecution service lawyers has produced nine declarations of membership and two of the nine said they had let their lodge membership lapse. Some 992 CPS lawyers, or nearly half of those asked, either refused to say whether they were freemasons or did not return the form.
Evidence that freemasonry is still a problem emerged in a police corruption trial last month in which a former officer was jailed for attempting to abuse his masonic connections within the Met.
Among judges and magistrates, the voluntary drive to persuade the masons to register has proved more successful. The lord chancellor, Lord Irvine, invited those presiding over the courts to declare whether they were freemasons. The latest available figures show that 263 judges have admitted they are masons; some 4,744 have stated they are not.
A further 70 refused to disclose whether they were members, and 213 others did not respond to Lord Irvine's invitation.
The response among the 25,000 magistrates has been even better.
Some 1,208 magistrates have declared they are masons, 20,300 have signed a statement that they are not, and 599 have refused to say. Some 2,857 did not reply.
Chris Mullin, chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, whose inquiry initiated this drive, said: 'I recognise there are some practical difficulties, but it is clear that there is a great deal of foot dragging going on especially among the police and the CPS.'
Mr Mullin added: 'Were the masons to cooperate, they would dispel a lot of illusions. By not cooperating they create the impression that they have something to hide, which is not necessarily the case.'
The home secretary, Jack Straw, wrote to all chief constables at the beginning of April reminding them of the request to set up voluntary registers, but, although the majority of chief constables are in favour of their creation in principle, it is unlikely any firm numbers will emerge before October.
In future, all recruits to the police, the judiciary, the CPS lawyers, and the probation and the prison services will have to make a declaration as a condition of service.
Mr Straw has said he will make a final decision on the need for legislation to enforce disclosure once the extent of compliance with the voluntary registers becomes clear.