Police corruption is a form of police misconduct in which law enforcement officers end up breaking their political contract and abuse their power for personal or departmental gain. This type of corruption can involve only one officer, or it can involve a group of officers. Internal police corruption is a challenge to public trust, cohesion of departmental policies, human rights and legal violations involving serious consequences. Police corruption can take many forms, such as bribery.
Soliciting or accepting bribes in exchange for not reporting organized drug or prostitution rings or other illegal activities and violations of law, county and city ordinances and state and federal laws.
Flouting the police code of conduct in order to secure convictions of civilians and suspects—for example, through the use of falsified evidence. There are also situations where law enforcement officers may deliberately and systematically participate in organized crime themselves.
In most major cities there are internal affairs sections to investigate suspected police corruption or misconduct, including selective enforcement, but there are situations where Internal Affairs also hides departmental and individual corruption, fraud, abuse and waste by individual officers, groups of officers or even unwritten departmental policies. There are also Police Commissions who are complicit in the same cover-ups, often to hide internal and departmental problems, both from public view, and also from inter-departmental reviews and investigations. Certain officers can be fired, then rehired by petition after they accrue enough signatures, often from the very criminals and violators from whom corrupt officers have garnered previous favors in exchange for officers "turning a blind eye", resulting in selective enforcement of violations being deterred, but actually promoted.
Similar entities include the British Independent Police Complaints Commission. Police corruption is a significant widespread problem in many departments and agencies worldwide.
It is not possible to measure the level of corruption in a country. Surveys of police officers, citizens and businesses can be used to provide estimates on levels of corruption. These are often inaccurate, as respondents involved in corruption are reluctant to provide any information implicating themselves in criminal activity. Despite this limitation, information collected from International Crime Victim Surveys and surveys conducted by the Global Corruption Enumerated Barometer can be used to estimate the level of police corruption.
Police officers have several opportunities to gain personally from their status and authority as law enforcement officers. The Knapp Commission, which investigated corruption in the New York City Police Department in the early 1970s, divided corrupt officers into two types: meat-eaters, who "aggressively misuse their police powers for personal gain", and grass-eaters, who "simply accept the payoffs that the happenstances of police work throw their way."
The sort of corrupt acts that have been committed by police officers have been classified as follows:
- Corruption of authority: When police officers receive free drinks, meals, and other gratuities, because they are police officers, whether intentionally or unintentionally, they convey an image of corruption.
- Extortion/bribery: Demanding or receiving payment for criminal offenses, to overlook a crime or a possible future crime. Types of bribery are protection for illegal activities, ticket fixing, altering testimony, destroying evidence, and selling criminal information. Bribery is one of the most common acts of corruption.
- Theft and burglary Is when an officer or department steals from an arrest and crime victims or corpses. Examples are taking drugs for personal use in a drug bust, and taking personal objects from a corpse at the scene of a crime. A theft can also occur within a department. An officer can steal property from the department's evidence room or property room for personal use.
- Shakedowns: Can be classified under theft and burglary. Stealing items for personal use from a crime scene or an arrest.
- "Fixing": Undermining criminal prosecutions by withholding evidence or failing to appear at judicial hearings, for bribery or as a personal favor.
- Perjury: Lying to protect other officers or oneself in a court of law or a department investigation.
- Direct criminal activities: A law enforcement officer engages in criminal activity themselves.
- Internal payoffs: Prerogatives and prerequisites of law enforcement organizations, such as shifts and holidays, being bought and sold.
- The "frame up": The planting or adding to evidence, especially in drug cases.
- Ticket fixing: Police officers cancelling traffic tickets as a favor to the friends and family of other police officers.
Corrupted behavior can be caused by the behavioral change of the officer within the department's "subculture". A subculture is a group of individuals within a culture that share the same attitudes and beliefs. Police officers within the department share the same norms and that new behavioral development can be attributed through psychological, sociological, and anthropological paradigms.
- Psychological paradigm: The psychological paradigm suggests that behavior is based and structured through an individual's early stages of life. Those attracted to the police occupation tend to be more "authoritarian". The authoritarian personality is characterized by conservative, aggressive, cynical, and rigid behaviors. Corruption may involve profit or another type of material benefit gained illegally as a consequence of the officer's authority. Psychological corruption can be a part of a department's culture or from the certain individual.
- Sociological paradigm: The sociological paradigm focuses on individual exposure to a police training academy, regular in-service training, and field experience all shape occupational character. Police learn how to behave, discretion, morals and what to think from their shared experiences with other police officers. New recruits develop definitions with their peers either positive or negative. These definitions are then reinforced, positively or negatively, by the rewards or punishments (either real or perceived) that follow their behavior. For example, a new recruit may be given an order by his peer to arrest an individual sitting in the passenger seat for a DUI. This action can end up negatively or positively for the officer depending on how the situation is perceived by the court later on.
- Anthropological paradigm: When an individual's social character is changed when an officer becomes part of the occupational culture. The term culture is often used to describe differences among large social groups where they share unique beliefs, morals, customs, and other characteristics that set them apart from other groups. Within the police culture, officers learn to be suspicious of the public. Police culture can also be quite racist, and shot through with assumptions about the criminal tendencies of certain minority groups, such as African Americans, or the competency of fellow officers from minority backgrounds, which can lead officers to make corrupted choices for personal benefits or gains.
Accurate information about the prevalence of police corruption is hard to come by, since the corrupt activities tend to happen in secret and police organizations have little incentive to publish information about corruption. Police officials and researchers alike have argued that in some countries, large-scale corruption involving the police not only exists but can even become institutionalized. One study of corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department (focusing particularly on the Rampart scandal) proposed that certain forms of police corruption may be the norm, rather than the exception, in American policing. In the UK, an internal investigation in 2002 into the largest police force, the Metropolitan Police, Operation Tiberius found that the force was so corrupt that "organized criminals were able to infiltrate Scotland Yard "at will" by bribing corrupt officers ... and that Britain’s biggest force experienced 'endemic corruption' at the time".
Where corruption exists, the widespread existence of a Blue Code of Silence among the police can prevent the corruption from coming to light. Officers in these situations commonly fail to report corrupt behavior or provide false testimony to outside investigators to cover up criminal activity by their fellow officers. The well-known case of Frank Serpico, a police officer who spoke out about pervasive corruption in the New York City Police Department despite the open hostility of other members, illustrates how powerful the code of silence can be. In Australia in 1994, by 46 votes to 45, independent politician John Hatton forced the New South Wales state government to override the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the advice of senior police to establish a ground-breaking Royal Commission into Police Corruption However, in a number of countries, such as China,Pakistan, Malaysia, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil or Mexico, police corruption remains to be one of the largest social problems facing their countries.
Until 2010, few corruption cases have been prosecuted against the Austrian police. There have been a low number of indictments relating to corruption. This is supported by Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index which ranks Austria among the 16 countries with the lowest corruption levels with 7.8 points. The general public support these statistics further as only 25% believe that bribe offering and bribe acceptance is widespread amongst Austrian police officers. Whilst this figure may still appear to be high, it is still much lower than the average for the EU (34%). The success, in comparison to many other nations, can be in part attributed to the stable economic performance of the state, which allows the Austrian police force to receive appropriate salaries. As a result, the likelihood that a significant number of Austrian police officers would consider engaging in corrupt practices as a way of making a living is minimal, and rather acts of police corruption tend to be committed episodically. It must also be noted that Austria is a gateway to the European Union from the Eastern European countries, which creates additional corruption opportunities. Despite this, studies illustrate that officers and supervisors tend to be knowledgeable about the boundaries of the police culture, especially with regards to the types of behaviours permitted and prohibited.
Whilst Austria has somewhat been devoid of corruption, there have been several corruption cases particularly over the last several years, which question the accountability of the Austrian police. In 2006, the Vienna police chief was charged with abuse of office and unauthorized acceptance of gifts from private companies, testament to the rising number of corruption acts committed by Austrian police. This is further expressed by Eurobarometer data that emphasises this recent spike in police corruption, as surveys highlighted that in 2011 80% of Austrian citizens exclaimed that corruption was a serious problem, compared to 60% in 2009. The figures from 2011 are above the EU average of 76%, indicating that the recent years have been littered with police corruption crimes that include abuse of office, unauthorized disclosure of information, as well as bribe acceptance. Despite such a rapid elevation in corruption cases amongst police authorities in Austria, no public data and scarce quantities of academic research detailing the number of police officers registered or suspected of or involved in acts of corruption are available. This makes it extremely difficult to assess the extent and nature of the corrupt practices being conducted by the Austrian police. This is because the institutions in charge of countering corruption have only started analyzing it in the last few years, due to the contemporary context that police corruption in Austria is situated. It must be noted that despite this recent escalation in police corruption prevalence, Austria still remains a country that is characterized by a low number of corruption cases compared to other countries throughout the world.
The economic security of Austria has allowed the police to develop internal control measures that are necessary for identifying and combating corruption. Established internal control measures include the Office for Internal Affairs, the Office for Public Affairs, as well as the Office of the Ombudsman. These developments, amongst many others, are illustrative of the active, preventative approach adopted by the Austrian government and the Ministry of the Interior to address the recent trend of corruption manifestations. These institutional bodies, coupled together with the high degree of intolerance toward corruption amongst Austrian citizens, and the stable nature of the Austrian economy, appear to facilitate the foundations for a positive framework needed in order to mitigate and eradicate police corruption throughout Austria.
In mainland China, the collusion between corrupt police officers and gang bosses is a big concern, bringing legitimacy crisis to the police as well as the ruling party. Since 1990s, China's anti-corruption campaigns have focused on serious organized crime and corrupt government officials who act as 'protective umbrella' (protectors) for local gangsters. Criminal organizations who are not able seek protection from local police officers are very likely to be destroyed during China's anti-crime campaigns, while criminal groups under police protection are able to survive and control illegal businesses (e.g. gambling, prostitution and drugs) in their territories. Wang's book The Chinese Mafia, based on rich empirical data, examines how organized crime and police corruption interact, how gang bosses make use of social network to initiate and build mutually beneficial networks with police officers.
Belgium’s levels of corruption in police and business matters are considered to be low. A 2012 ranking specifically on police corruption rated Belgium 16 out of 176. The 2013 Special Eurobarometer stated that 67% percent of Belgium’s population felt general corruption, not just police-related, was widespread, compared to the EU average of 76%.
Respondents to the Global Corruption Barometer in 2014 stated that, on a scale of 1-5 (5 being extremely corrupt), police corruption was at 3.2. 11% of respondents felt police corruption had increased since 2011, 51% felt it had decreased. 61% of respondents felt the government’s response to police corruption was ineffective.
Two independent organizations deal with police corruption: the General Inspectorate of the Police (AIG) and the Committee P. There are also 196 internal control units within local police forces to deal with minor incidents and police misconduct in conjunction with the AIG and Committee P. In 2011, out of 1,045 investigations by the AIG, 6 were specifically corruption-based, with higher numbers of breaching professional confidence (44) or fraud (26), but lower (3) of abuse of police power. To maintain impartiality, the AIG has completely separate servers to the police, but draws on a number of databases for its investigations, as well as working together with the Committee P. The Committee P generally deals with the most important corruption cases, such as those relating to organized crime or torture. Belgium also has other institutions which deal with corruption, including police-related cases, on a wider scale: the Standing Police Monitoring Committee, and the Central Office for the Repression of Corruption (OCRC).
Case of Marc Dutroux
In 2004, the high-profile case of Belgian serial killer and child molester Marc Dutroux resulted in outrage in the community amidst allegations of police corruption and incompetence. Dutroux was meant to be under police surveillance the night he kidnapped two of his victims, but the police had programmed the camera to operate only during the day. The police failed to locate two living victims being held captive during a search of Dutroux’s home in 1995. A locksmith who was accompanying the police during the search said he heard children’s cries, but was dismissed by the police. The police claimed that they did not view seized videotapes of Dutroux constructing his "dungeon" as at the time they had no VCR. Dutroux claimed he was part of a sex ring that involved high-ranking members of Belgian police and government. The widespread anger over the continued failings of the police and Dutroux’s sex-ring allegations, as well as residing judge Jean-Marc Connerott’s dismissal, led to the "White March" in 1996, demanding reforms to Belgian police and judicial systems. Connerotte testified that the investigation was deliberately hampered by officials. Dutroux also escaped from police custody in 1998 before being apprehended. A parliamentary commission into the Dutroux case in 1998 found that the defendant benefited from police corruption and incompetence. Although police were cleared of direct compliance in Dutroux’s crimes, the report cited major gross negligence throughout Belgium’s police system, and an overhaul was called for. The case severely damaged the Belgian community’s trust in their police and law enforcement systems.
Case of Stefan P
In 2006, a Flemish, i.e. Dutch-speaking, Belgian police officer was sentenced to six months in jail for attempting to extort the equivalent of £160,000 from the parents of a missing woman in 2004, telling them they would be more likely to see their daughter again if they acquiesced. He confessed, but after serving his sentence successfully appealed his sacking from the police as the sacking had been done by a French-speaking officer. Belgium has laws in place to uphold the "rights" of the speakers of each language, including that of a police officer who is being disciplined to undergo questioning in their own language. The former officer was working on a compensation claim and calling for reinstatement as of 2012.
Data from the 2011 Eurobarometer research places Bulgaria fourth in the European Union (EU) in terms of bribes paid to public officials. The main factor behind this ranking is bribes paid to police officers. According to the same research, Bulgaria sits first on the list of EU member states with widespread police corruption.
While much of the duties of safeguarding - largely through oppression - the communist rule in Bulgaria was undertaken by the Ministry of Interior (MoI), after 1989 its make-up changed dramatically. From 1990-1993, almost one quarter of the MoI’s staff were dismissed - between 12,000 and 19,000 police officers, 60-90% of which were officers at the medium and senior levels. Additionally, a role in the political conflicts of the 1990s led to further dismissals of national and regional police detectives and mass layoffs of middle ranking officers. Simultaneously, Bulgaria was undergoing a transition from the Soviet Communist regime to democracy, leading to a sharp increase in crime and criminal incidents (up to ten times in growth for some crimes), coupled with a severe economic downturn and the emergence of a large number of criminal groups. The effects of these drastic changes to the MoI and dramatic upheaval of Bulgaria’s political landscape culminated with the financial and economic crisis of 1996-97, during which police corruption rose on almost all levels.
Before these changes, during the period of 1944-1989, abuses within the MoI were investigated by the State Security - an almost exact replica of the Soviet KGB - who had total control of law enforcement. This was achieved by monitoring the political loyalty of MoI staff, but also by exceptional powers to investigate abuses; including the use of undercover agents and virtually unlimited powers to investigate. However, the considerable experience accumulated over these years was lost immediately after the democratic change in 1989, when the body was disbanded.
After Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, the country was seriously challenged to eliminate instances of police corruption. As a result of this, the deputy-chief of a police service was dismissed over accusations of illicit contact with an alcohol producer, and police misconduct has been limited by institutional and legal changes.
However, Bulgaria continues to experience everyday police corruption, and the Bulgarian people continue to hold negative views of the nation’s police force. Corruption and conflicts of interest continue to offer a serious challenge to public perceptions of the Bulgarian police, attitudes that are not only encouraged by political scandals and frequent media coverage of police corruption, but also by the personal experiences of everyday Bulgarians. In 2013, 65% of respondents to Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer thought that the police were either corrupt, or extremely corrupt. However, comparing this to 86% who felt the same of the judiciary and 71% for the parliament/legislator, shows that Bulgarians are regaining trust in their police force, or at the very least, have more trust in them than other public officials who have some effect on their legal protection.
In 2011, Eurobarometer research that asked respondents to report whether or not they have been pressured to pay bribes to the police ranked Bulgaria first in the EU, with 7% of respondents claiming that they had been. Within this research, it was found that 450,000 Bulgarians annually were asked for bribes by police, a number that did not change substantially between 2009 and 2011. According to the same research, 70% of Bulgarians believe that bribe-taking is widespread in the police force.
This perception was not aided by the arrest of seventeen traffic police officers on September 27, 2011 for charges of corruption and operating in organised crime groups. According to Sofia City Prosecutor Nikolai Kokinov, these officers were pooling the bribes they received at the end of their shifts and dividing the money between them, sometimes taking up to 500 liva a shift. According to Kokinov, police do not receive large bribes, but instead are given small ones regularly.
These arrests have not affected instances of bribing the police. Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer recorded 17% of respondents claiming that they paid a bribe to the police.
Bulgaria begun undergoing political stabilisation in the late 1990s/early 2000s, after which attempts were made to fill the watchdog and counter-corruption enforcement agency hole left by the State Security. A telephone hotline and internet site was open for the submission of complaints to be used by the MoI Inspectorate. The Inspectorate was also given controlling, preventative and disciplinary functions by the Ministry of Interior Act. It is split into two divisions: "control of management" and "countering corruption in the Ministry of Interior". The 35 officers of the Inspectorate have a number of functions, ranging from assessing corruption risks, undertaking inspections aimed at reducing and preventing corruption, reviewing complaints received about the MoI and supervising the implementation of inspections. They report directly to the Minister of Interior.
In 2008, Bulgaria also introduced a new intelligence and counter-intelligence agency, the State Agency for National Security (SANS). It is directly subordinated to the Prime Minister and exists outside the MoI, which gives the agency a degree of independence if it is tasked with investigating corruption within the MoI, particularly regarding corruption among senior officers and management. However, SANS is purely intelligence-gathering, and has no police powers.
As a result of these two initiatives, 74 disciplinary sanctions were imposed against members of the Bulgarian police. Of these 74, six cases were referred to the prosecution, and the MoI was advised to dismiss officers accused to misconduct in a further seven of them.
2008 also saw the establishment of the Internal Security Directorate (ISD) of the MoI, the first service since 1990 that has multiple officers around the country, as well as the ability to combine covert methods with police powers. This means that for the first time since the dissolution of the State Security, a branch of the MoI had the ability to use surveillance techniques to expose police corruption, including a network of undercover agents, as well as take proactive measures - on the basis of risk analysis - to end corruption, actively seeking and collecting evidence on MoI staff without complaints being submitted, something that neither SANS nor the Inspectorate can do. In 2011, data from the ISD indicated that 1,200 complaints were followed up on that year, leading to around 300 infringements being substantiated and 100-120 officers were dismissed or indicted. This large upswing is due to the organisational changes undertaken in the MoI, which no longer allow complaints to remain within the division they were made, but instead must be referred to the ISD or the Inspectorate.
Further changes were undertaken to reduce police corruption in 2014, with all MoI cars being equipped with GPS systems, and then video cameras and microphones being fitted to all traffic police patrol cars that record what passes between traffic police and drivers. As part of this initiative, rules were changed that allowed an MoI vehicles to carry out roadside checks of motorists. As of November 25, these checks have only been allowed to be undertaken by traffic police. Bulgarian Interior Minister Vesselin Vuchkov claimed these new measures were expected to cut corruption by 80% by reducing direct contact between police and motorists, and thus lowering the opportunity for police to receive bribes and participate in corruption.
Police corruption throughout Croatia is widespread.
Accepting bribes is a common form of street police corruption in Croatia. According to the International Victim Crimes Survey, 15 out of 100 respondents reported paying a bribe within the last year- 44% of which were paid to police officers. This frequency is higher than most other East-European countries, with respondents suggesting that police in Croatia are targeted more frequently for successful bribes compared to other countries in East-Europe. These results indicate that police corruption, especially in regards to the acceptance of a bribe by a police officer, seems to be more prevalent among Croatian police than among police in other East-European countries.
Prosecution of corruption is based on the 1997 Criminal Code. Article 337 of the code states that "a public official who abuses the office, oversteps the limits of official authority, or fails to perform the official duty with the aim of obtaining pecuniary gain or other non-pecuniary benefit could be charged criminally". As well as this, section 347 of the code prohibits the acceptance of a bribe by any public official, explicitly listing police officers. These two sections provide grounds for the prosecution of police for several forms of police corruption.
In order to establish a successful corruption-control system in Croatia it is essential that police be held responsible for corruption. There must be a legally sound basis for the punishment of corrupt police officers and legal tools to achieve this punishment. Section 337 and 347 makes this achievable, as do the sanctions listed in the Criminal Code. As well as this, these norms of not accepting police corruption should be enforced. That is, police officers must be held responsible for their actions and sanctions should be exercised.
Police corruption in Cyprus is unofficially monitored by the Independent Authority for the Investigation of Allegations and Complaints Against the Police. In 2013, the Authority heard a total of 145 complaints against the police by the public, from 132 complaints in 2012. However, there is no official, government-mandated authority to combat and monitor corruption, nor an official government anti-corruption strategy. Corruption within the Cyprus Police should be handled internally, as per the Cyprus Code of Police Ethics.
Corrupt activities among the police are typically defined as using a position of power to influence particular decisions, such as nepotism, the giving and taking of bribes, accessing information that is not directly related to an officer’s current work or investigation(s), and lower levels of organised crime are also commonly noted in cases of police corruption.
A Eurobarometer Report by the European Commission in 2009 indicated that the grand majority of Cypriots (94%) believe that corruption is widespread in the police and the wider public affairs sector at national, regional, and local levels. A follow-up survey in 2012 indicated that 97% of Cypriots believed that corruption was a major issue for the country.
The 2009 report also showed that 89% of Cypriots believed that corruption was widespread within the Cyprian Police Service involving bribes and the abuse of positions of power (nepotism), compared to an average of 39% of European Union citizens believing corruption is widespread among their own police services or institution. Additionally, 80% of Cyprian respondents to the Eurobarometer 2009 Report agreed that corruption is unavoidable within the public, police, and government sectors, whereas only 14% disagreed with the statement.
The 2013 Eurobarometer Report on Corruption indicated that the top three reasons for corruption occurring in Cyprus are; "because politicians and government are not doing enough to fight corruption (88%), the lack of real punishment (87%), and the lack of meritocracy (87%)". Oddly, 65% of Cypriots have reported to have a strong level of confidence in the police in an unofficial 2013 survey comparing trust in the police across 50 countries. However, this disparity may be influenced by the continually changing perceptions of respondents based on recent experiences, or the political climate. Due to Cyprus’ geographical composition as an island, corruption can spread across several networks, as high-ranking locals across several disciplines such as politics, law enforcement, judicial officials, and businessmen interact closely within the same social circles; whereas these relationships may be significantly diffused across larger mainland countries.
Transparency International (TI) has recommended that a Coordinating Body Against Corruption should be established under the Cyprian Attorney General, which is able to combat and enact strategic policies against corruption in the public and law enforcement sectors. Specifically, TI has recommended that an increase in police salaries, a reinforcement of the ethical code, and improved working conditions should be implemented to discourage the risk of accepting bribes to increase officers’ own income. Additionally, a greater transparency in the disclosure of assets, or second jobs to supplement income, should be incorporated into the duties of high-ranking law enforcement officials, so that future conflicts of interest can be made aware of and monitored.
Police corruption in the Czech republic can be perceived in two categories: petty everyday corruption (e.g. bribery and favouritism), and major economic corruption, involving foreign investments requiring both state support and subsidy decision-making.
Within these areas sections 158 – 162 detail forms of corruption ranging from abuse of power by a public official, to indirect bribery. The Czech Republic joined the EU in May 2004, following the splitting of Czechoslovakia in 1993. Since this split, corruption has made a steady incline. In 2001, 163 individuals were prosecuted with corrupt activity, of those 142 in relation to bribery. This in comparison to the 110 individuals prosecuted in 2000. In 1995 the number of ascertained crimes committed by officers with involvement in management and administration was calculated at 1,081, by 1999 this figure had jumped 10.1% to 5,081, which steadily declined into the 2000s. Royalties gained through major economic corruption are largely conspicuous. Tied up in ostentatious villas, over budget public construction projects and local government offices^. These "landmarks" are prominent enough to prompt guided tours around Prague. Curious tourists are directed between structures funded through large sums of taxpayers’ money. Money ending up in the pockets of civil servants and corrupt businessmen.
In 1991 the "Service for the Protection of Economic Interests" was set up, this later evolved into the "Unit for Combating Corruption and Serious Economic Crime of the Criminal Police and Investigation Service" in January 2002 . Its function: to detect connections between corruption and organised crime, in cooperation with the "Criminal Police Service and Investigation Unit of the Czech Police for Revealing Organised Crime". Similarly the "Inspection Department of the Ministry of the Interior" (IDMI), a police unit that deals with offences committed by police officers. This unit targets petty everyday corruption, involving low-level employees of the state who abuse their power for personal gain. Policemen earn a fraction the salary of a military officer. Where the Fire Brigade has 14 districts within the Czech Republic, the Police force only has 8, resulting in limited opportunity for climbing regional ranks. Policemen must also undergo far lengthier training than their better-paid Army and Fire Brigade colleagues. Such inequities prompt feelings of resentment among Police ranks. As a result, systems are now in place to combat petty corruption. Including automated cameras at traffic lights sending infringements directly to a driver, avoiding any physical interaction with a policing officer. At the same time, "The Unit for Combating Corruption and Financial Crime" (UOKFK), established by the Ministry of the Interior, also provides continuing education relating to domestic corruption and integrity of the Czech police force. Police Corruption in the Czech Republic is an ongoing issue, however one that is actively combatted through state and local action.
When asked specifically about public perceptions of police corruption, a rating of 2 was given (with 1 being least corrupt and 5 being most), which was lower than the perceived corruption in any other sector surveyed, other than education which also was rated a 2.
Danish police have a respectable reputation of not being associated with corruption and the public have great trust in the Danish police force. Although corruption is a rarity amongst Danish Police, there are effective procedures in place for the investigation and punishment of any police corruption. The Danish Independent Police Complaint Authority was formed to handle any allegations (corruption or other matters) made against the police force. The Police Complaints Authority council and chief executive deliberate and make decisions, based upon complaints of police misconduct, independently of police and prosecutors. To ensure transparency, the council consists of two members of the general public, as well as the Chair, who is a High Court Judge, an attorney, and a professor of jurisprudence. This council is reappointed every four years. Outlined in a very clear and simple document, is a guide of how complaints can be made by oneself, a bystander or on behalf of another. The document explains how lodging a complaint is free of charge and can be made in writing online or in person, or over the telephone, within six months of the relevant incident.
In 2012, the Police Complaints Authority received 655 complaints, with most cases involving accusations of general misconduct such as traffic violations (e.g., speeding without activated police lights), excessive use of force during arrests, foul language, or illegitimate access to the police database (officers are only allowed to check the database in police cases they are directly involved in), whereas accusations of corruption were very rare. There were concerns surrounding the difficulty with the investigation of a number of the general misconduct incidents due to problems with identifying the involved officers. This resulted in the suggestion of police officers wearing identity numbers on their uniforms. Uniform numbers were introduced in 2016.
Estonia’s experiences of corruption in general, and more specifically, corruption in the police force are low in comparison to the European Union’s average. While there are no specific anti-corruption agency or body which deals with corruption in Estonia, the Security Police Board and Police Board are in charge of investigating and regulating any instances of police corruption. The Security Police, established in 1993, is an impartial board within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Their main aims are to gather intelligence, counter-terrorism, and enact anti-corruption measures. This board comprises four regional departments who mainly deal with corruption surrounding ‘higher officials’. Majority of their force have received higher education with "specialised training in corruption investigations". Their primary purpose is to investigate instances of corruption crime, committed only by public servants. The achievements of this board, thus far, have been solving cases in significant white-collar crime and corruption in border and customs guard. In regards to the Estonian Police, in particular, while all police officers have to go through a bit of initial anti-corruption training there are no yearly requirements they must fulfill in terms of continued training. The general police are governed by the Police Board who have an Internal Control Division who are responsible for the investigation of misconduct and corruption. The Police board is in control of investigating smaller instances of corruption, as well as those cases concerning civic officials. These anti-corruption strategies and boards fall under multiple Anti-Corruption Strategies which have been implemented by the Ministry of Justice. The most recent of these strategies is the ‘Anti-Corruption Strategy 2013-2020’. The strategy crosses many private and public areas and sectors of Estonia. The aim of the strategy is to both raise awareness and educate the population of corruption and corruption-willingness. Within the guidelines of this strategy all decisions, regulations and policies implemented by the different ministries and boards must abide by the rule of transparency, whereby the public must be informed of what is occurring, how much it will cost and why. In the report for this strategy it is acknowledged there is a higher risk of corruption for those working in law enforcement agencies. Therefore, the Ministry of Justice pays close attention to these areas and have set about implementing strict measures and bodies to govern all law enforcement agencies. While the anti-corruption strategy has greatly assisted in decreasing levels of corruption in the general police force, the rate of corruption in the Border and Custom Guard Agency is still fairly high. Due to Estonia’s position on the border of the European Union (EU) their Border and Customs Guards come in contact with a great deal of organised crime and immigrants wanting to cross the Eastern border of Estonia into the EU. The result being many officials in this agency see the opportunity to increase their wealth through corruption and in turn accept bribes to let immigrants into Estonia and the EU. These type of corrupt officials pose a serious threat to both national security and the security of the EU when they let in illegal immigrants, in particular those involved in organised crime. In the Permanent Mission of Estonia, the Estonian Government states the aim of all anti-corruption strategies set up in their country is to ensure their population is allowed full enjoyment of their human rights. Through the long-term anti-corruption strategies, the Estonian Government aims to rid their country of any sort of corruption which could infringe on people’s rights or pose a threat to national or international security.
Finland has been found to consistently be one of the world’s least corrupt nations. In 2012, the Corruption Perceptions Index rated the Finns as the world’s least corrupt country (tie with Denmark and New Zealand). However, they fell to third in 2013 and remained there the following year, losing only one point on the table in that time. The Finns believe that this is due to heavily ingrained societal values that are shared amongst the population, as well as there being adequate wages and low disparities of income for the majority of the country. The latter reduces the propensity to accept bribes and checks economic greed.
In terms of police corruption, regular surveys of the public are taken in order to gauge perceptions of transparency in law enforcement officials. The 2007 Police Barometer survey found that one in four Finns think that it is very likely that corruption exists in some form within the Police. Further, one in six Finns think that the Police might act in an unethical manner towards foreigners by misusing information or mistreating detainees. The survey also found that trust in police remains high, but whilst the public consider that law enforcement officers generally conduct themselves well in interactions with clients and citizens, the standard has deteriorated somewhat. This could be due to the high expectations Finns carry of the Police, but it certainly shows that the public are of a high opinion of the transparency afforded them in the department of law enforcement.
More recent surveys show significant changes in the figures, however. In 2012, when Finland was at the top of the Corruption Perceptions Index, 27% of Finns believed that it was very likely that corruption existed in some form within the Police. This figure is not dissimilar from the 2007 Police Barometer survey, yet the figure in the 2014 survey jumps to 42% of Finns. This is most likely due to the high-profile case of Jari Aarnio. The story on Aarnio broke in September 2013, and in June 2015 the former head of the Helsinki drug squad was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment for aggravated abuse of office from 2009 to 2010 and for taking bribes from a private company. It is interesting to note that prosecutors asked for a 13-year sentence during hearings.
France is a member of the Council of Europe which has many legal frameworks against corruption in place including GRECO (Group of States Against Corruption) which applies for all Council of Europe signatories. GRECO works by equally monitoring rights and obligations of the Council of Europe’s Member States. Police are bound by the Recommendations on Codes of Conduct for Public Officials and Criminal Law Convention on Corruption. In addition, France has its own Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen approved in August 1789 which outlines the rights of civilians inclusive of conduct applicable to public officials for fair treatment. In 1993 The Central Service for the Prevention of Corruption was also established in France to prevent corruption and transparency of economical life and public procedures. There are a number of bodies that monitor and investigate police corruption in France. The Inspection Générale de la Gendarmerie Nationale enables consistency, independency and impartiality of inspections carried out by the Gendarmerie Nationale, Inspection Générale de la Police monitors and regulates police behaviour and the Commission Nationale de Deontologie de la Securite (CNDS) monitors ethical and moral codes required to be upheld by security forces in France. Other strategies such as disabling officers to be on duty in their originating neighborhood and prohibiting officers from working in private investigation for three years after leaving the police force are enforced to ensure impartiality.
There are limited studies or reports on police corruption within France because the issue is generally avoided by official institutions and no institution has a comprehensive understanding of its prevalence. This may be due to a lack of attention from media and other social science areas. It is a common assumption that police corruption in France is a rare occurrence in the area of organised crime. One explanation for institutional corruption in France is the hierarchical police system. This is due to higher rankings and specialised units having more discretion and being at higher risk of corruption.
Areas that have a heavy presence of organised crime, such as Marseille, are known to experience higher levels of police corruption.
In 2012, twelve French police officers were apprehended after an internal complaint was lodged into suspected corruption within the elite anti-crime squad, also known as the Brigade Anti-Criminalite (BAC) that operates within the Marseille north. This region is known for high drug activity. Despite attention being brought to the head of Centrale Directorate of National Security, Pascal Ladalle, a full-scale judicial enquire was not undertaken until the new police chief of Marseille was appointed. A total of 30 officers from the squad have been suspended for allegedly seizing drugs, money, cigarettes and jewellery from dealers and letting them go. The seized narcotics, money and valuables were all found in a makeshift ceiling at their station after a few months of investigation and surveillance. Investigations are still pending.
François Stuber was a police captain and Deputy Head of the Drug Squad in Strasbourg, France. One of Stuber’s duties was to destroy drugs seized from operations; however between 2003 and 2007, the officer instead traded narcotics including marijuana, heroin and cocaine to an established drug network. In addition to this, Stuber also imported drugs from various other networks. The former captain had an intimate relationship with a worker from the local court, Laurence Hamon, where they would use court information to ensure his drug network associates were not under investigation. This method was also employed to avoid tracing mechanisms imposed by the Inspection Generale de la Police Nationale to detect any abuse of information. Stuber worked closely with Laurence, using her residence to store the seized drugs and her banking accounts to launder money. Stuber was jailed for the maximum term of 10 years.
The substantial legislation covering corruption offences within the German Criminal Code is indicative of the importance placed on combating this type crime in Germany. In general, corruption is construed as an individual offence, although it is possible to be prosecuted for actions committed on behalf of a corporation under the Administrative Offences Act.
Alongside civil servants, judges and other public officials undertaking or appointed a public administrative role, police officers may be held liable for criminal prosecution for corruption-related offences under Sections 331-338 of the German Criminal Code. Specifically, according to Section 331, a public official who requires, allows themselves to be promised, or accepts an advantage for themselves or a third party for the discharge of their duty is liable to criminal prosecution.
An advantage involves any type of benefit that may improve the individual’s financial, legal or personal standing, which they are not legally entitled to receive. Although there is no statutory minimum to what can be interpreted as an unlawful benefit, minor customary advantages that are unlikely to impact the perception or decision making process of the individual are not considered criminal.
Additionally, pursuant to Section 332 of the German Criminal Code, the past or future undertakings of an official act (e.g. lobbying of certain laws, services regulations, etc.) that violate official duties are considered unlawful. Penalties for this offence, as well as bribery in a public office in general, can range from fines to imprisonment, where the sanctions apply to each count of bribery, with a maximum sentence of 10 years for serious cases.
In addition to legislation, strategic approaches which target all German government bodies, including the police, are employed through the Federal Government Directive concerning the Prevention of Corruption in the Federal Administration. This directive recommends internal auditing, employment of a contact person for corruption related-issues rotation of staff and the principle of multiple controls in order to prevent and combat corruption within governmental bodies.
Beyond the domestic level, Germany is heavily involved in the creation and compliance to international anti-corruption standards via the United Nations, the World Bank, the Group of Eight (G8) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). German public institutions, such as the police, have also been acknowledged by the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) to have done considerable work to prevent corruption.
Public perception of police corruption is low among German citizens according to the 2013 Special Eurobarometer on Corruption report. German respondents (16%) were among the least likely (within European Union) to think that corruption, or the giving and taking of bribes and abuse of power for personal gain, is widespread among police and customs officers. More generally, 92% of German respondents do not feel personally affected by corruption in their daily lives, considerably higher than the 70% EU average. However, although more than half (59%) of respondents believe that corruption is prevalent within Germany, this is still considerably lower than the 76% EU average.
Despite the more than half of German respondents perceiving a prevalence of corruption in German society, the actual experience of corruption is quite low. Less than 1% of German respondents reported they were requested or expected to pay a bribe in the year of the report, while only 9% indicated they were personally aware of someone who had accepted bribes, respectively below the 4% and 12% average among European Union citizens.
Today, Greece experiences some of the highest levels of police corruption in Europe, with 99% of its citizens believing that corruption in the country is widespread.
Transparency International surveys show that Greece ranks high among European Union nations in terms of perceptions of corruption. From 2013 to 2016, the annual Transparency International reports showed that Greeks ranked second-most corrupt among EU countries, behind only Bulgaria.
Bribing police officers is common in Greece. Citizens may offer the police monetary sums as a way of avoiding getting a ticket or in order to obtain a drivers license. 96% of Greek citizens believe that this is an acceptable practice and 93% believe that it is the easiest way of obtaining public services. The Hellenic Police Internal Affairs Unit has investigated cases of corruption among police, including police acceptance of bribes from traffickers. Human trafficking has become a more prominent issue in the realm of police bribery in recent times. Particularly as the state is an optimum destination for those seeking asylum, due to its many small islands and borders being difficult to patrol. It is not unusual for Greek police to provide fake documentation and plane tickets to illegal immigrants. A trafficker’s circuit was discovered in the Santorini police department as recently as June 2015. It was reported that airline employees contacted the local police, concerned about passengers who may be travelling to European countries using forged documents. However, the police performed only rudimentary checks, and permitted the migrants to board the flights. According to the US Department of State 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report, police also recently dismantled a sex trafficking ring involving two police officers, who were then suspended from duty.
Greece is a member of the European Partners Against Corruption (EPAC). It is housed in Greece within the Hellenic Police Internal Affairs division, established in 1999 and has 120 staff. The National Strategic Reference Framework has also put forth €340,000 to fund "transparency and anti-corruption for good governance in public administration-police" seminars. The program will be made available to graduates of the Police Officers Academy of Greece. However, only 14% of Greeks believe that the government’s efforts to combat corruption are effective. Furthermore, unlike other member states, the amount of corruption in Greece has increased rather than decreased, with its global ranking falling from 80th in 2011 to 94th in 2012. This is likely because of the states financial difficulties. Data collected by the Greek anti-corruption task-force in 2012 showed that corruption in the state had spiked, with 1,060 cases investigated – a 33% increase on 2011. Moreover, 710 (or 66.9%) of these were concerned with police officers.
Hungarian criminologist Geza Finszter has named Hungary a fundamentally dishonest society. Due to this, real justice is nearly impossible to achieve. Government operations are not transparent. This leads to corruption which is reflected in many aspects of its society, including politicians, judges, and the police force. Police force corruption affects the criminal investigators who, have a greater amount of exposure to corruption than others. They are paid poorly, allowing well endowed criminals to corrupt them . This corruption in the lower level of the police is not the biggest problem when it comes to police corruption in Hungary.
In the National police Organised Crime Division, high-ranking officers, with possible underworld ties can choose to proceed or halt sensitive operations. In short if an investigation runs the risk of exposing political or other types of corruption they tend to more often than not be shut down without much delay. According to Transparency International, many state run institutions in Hungary are directed by government loyalists allowing for an easy spread of corruption. It was also found that when it came to reporting corruption in Hungary, 70% of the population would not report instances of corruption due to a mistrust of authorities and a fear of the consequences for doing so. Transparency International claims that the government discourages its citizens when it comes to reporting corruption as no adequate protection measures have been implemented to help whistle blowers.
Due to Hungary’s geographical position that is bordering the former Yugoslavia and, its political history it has become a major crossroads for the transportation of narcotics between Asia and Western Europe. According to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2007, Hungarian border control and narcotics police seem to be tackling and resisting corruption to an extent. The report showed that education of border police was making some difference when it came to the issue of corruption. Contrary to this however it would appear when it comes to prosecuting high-profile cases involving organised crime, including drug trafficking, sentences tend to be lenient. It would appear that corruption is systematic and prevalent through the entirety of the Hungarian Criminal Justice system reaching as high as Judges and, not just its police force. After being ranked in the bottom third of countries when it comes to corruption, and when looking at the ineffectiveness of the new anti corruption laws that have been put in place it is all too clear that corruption seems to be an accepted practice in Hungary’s police force at least for the foreseeable future.
The Italian Police Force is difficult to monitor in terms of corruption due to its decentralised nature. There are four different branches of the Italian policing system, broken up into the Carabinieri, the State Police, the Local Police and the Guardia di Finanza. Due to the delegation of responsibilities between the branches it is the case that monitoring all of them with one centralised and independent body becomes extremely logistical and difficult. The Guardia di Finanza is charged with the responsibility of regulating all financial dealings, within and outside of Italy. It can be seen, therefore, that this branch of the national police force may need the most attention and regulation, due to their constant dealings with money.
Latvia joined the European Union in 2004 following a chequered history. It became a democratic parliamentary democracy in 1918. The Soviets installed a puppet government from 1945 through 1991, when it resumed its independence.
However, many African nations have been taken to task in recent years for widespread corruption. For example, a 2011 Gallup poll in Nigeria found that 94% of Nigerians think corruption is widespread in the government. What a shameful problem.
In January 2017, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of Equatorial Guinea's president was on trial for corruption in France, accused of buying palatial Parisian properties and exotic cars with money plundered from his native country. The worth of the assets is put at $105 million.
Transparency International published article on the case in July 2017. Part of the lines stated "The trial of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, wrapped up this week in Paris. A verdict is expected at a later date. Witnesses testified about the challenging conditions facing citizens of Equatorial Guinea, as well as the need for France to stop itself becoming a haven for stolen assets."
Zimbabwe is an Africa country where corruption is one of the benefactors for a long time. Corruption in this country is experienced in many sectors, both in private and public offices. In politics, corruption is “heavy swimming” as average politicians cannot do without indulging in one corrupt practice to another before they win in any election. In fact, the less connected citizens of Zimbabwe are the one that suffers as wealth which is to be evenly distributed are being utilized by the top politicians alone.
In 2013, about 77% of the citizens of Zimbabwe said that corruption was very serious in the country (Transparency International, 2013). The corruption level in the country made the country the country the 9th most corrupt country in the year 2013. As if the estimate was not enough, 92% of the surveyed citizens of the country lamented that the police force of the country is corrupt.