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Phone hacking scandal shows police corruption risk

Written by Rachel Davies on Wednesday, 9 May 2012

This afternoon the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, has confirmed that documents supplied to the police contain evidence that journalists working for the News of the World made ‘inappropriate payments’ to police officers in exchange for information.


 

This afternoon the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, has confirmed that documents supplied to the police contain evidence that journalists working for the News of the World made ‘inappropriate payments’ to police officers in exchange for information.

This is the latest development in the phone hacking scandal which has seen the Sunday paper accused of accessing the voicemails of several thousand people, including the families of those caught up in the 7/7 bombings. It is no surprise that the alleged disregard for those coping with the aftermath of such tragic events has caused such a strong public reaction.

What is clear is that this recent allegation is one of corruption and straightforward bribery. This highlights the fact that bribery appears in many forms and can occur in many different contexts, but it also raises questions about the vulnerability of the UK police force to corruption. Although our recent report, Corruption in the UK, did not highlight this sector as an area of particular concern, there was evidence that corruption is still a risk:

  • In 2008/09 the Independent Police Complaints Commission received 368 allegations of corruption. Of these, 152 were investigated and 11 substantiated.
  • Each police force has its own anti-corruption team which shares information with the Serious Organised Crime Agency. However, the proposed budget reduction may have a detrimental effect on anti-corruption work, because not only will it result in fewer officers, but also a shift in policing priorities.

These developments act as a warning that our police force is not immune to corruption and that adequate steps must be taken to root out bribery risks at all levels. Today Sir Paul announced that a ‘thorough and robust investigation’ into claims of police payments would continue. This is certainly welcome, because nothing but a zero-tolerance approach to bribery is sufficient.

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Read 8212 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 11:47
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Rachel Davies

Rachel Davies Teka is Head of Advocacy at TI-UK, and co-chair of the Bond Anti-Corruption Group. You can tweet her @rachelcerysd.

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