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Police corruption report: is integrity a priority?

Written by Mark Pyman on Friday, 30 January 2015

This morning, HMIC published Integrity matters: An inspection of arrangements to ensure integrity and to provide the capability to tackle corruption in policing. Transparency International UK welcomes the report in principle and its recommendations – there are many positive steps outlined in Integrity Matters. However, we do have some reservations.

This morning, HMIC published Integrity matters: An inspection of arrangements to ensure integrity and to provide the capability to tackle corruption in policing. Transparency International UK welcomes the report in principle and its recommendations – there are many positive steps outlined in Integrity Matters. However, we do have some reservations.

First, the positive elements:

From 2015, HMIC will conduct an annual inspection of police integrity. This will focus specifically on how well the police proactively look for and challenge corruption.

The announcement of a new offence on police corruption is encouraging. However, it is not yet clear what additional requirement or wrongdoing would be created by the offence. The legal and sanctions regime for corruption in the UK is complicated, and is covered by at least 25 separate laws. It is important that a new law should not be composed in haste. The rushed and poorly drafted Lobbying Act is case in point.

We welcome the initiative taken by HMIC to involve civil society organisations – including TI – in developing the methodology and examining the initial results as part of an external reference group. For the first time HMIC invited external observers such as TI to participate in the field work. This is good practice and should be implemented in future reviews.

However, there are three headers that encapsulate some causes for concern:

The report seems over-complimentary of leadership:

The report has very much the flavour of being “glass half full”. It should be a cause of great concern that 36% of the public thought corruption was common or very common in the police. The report speaks about the commitment of chief officers, but this appears to be the case in only half of the forces.

Similarly, less than half the forces have established a structure for dealing specifically with ethics and integrity. The new Code of Ethics, published by the College of Policing, should assist in bringing a consistent approach in this regard. We do, though, welcome the analysis of the size and scope of the anti-corruption units in each police force as it shows the wide variation, including many who are just purely reactive.

Poor confidence in police reporting raises question of how much is simply unreported:

Police have limited confidence in the official whistleblowing mechanisms. Only 57% trusted the confidentiality of the system. HMIC found a weak process for assessment of internal complaints.

In terms of investigation outcomes, there are a large number of cases where no further action was taken after investigation into what would appear to be serious matters. A disproportionate number of these appear to be racial discrimination investigations.

High numbers of police officers resigning and retiring in response to investigation:

A very high proportion of police officers and police staff appear to have been allowed to retire or resign during a misconduct investigation. This is a source of major concern.

You can read the report online here.


Read 2351 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 12:18

Mark Pyman

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