The simple answer must be ‘Yes’; why else would Chief Constables run ‘Anti Corruption’ units. There has clearly been corruption with the police in the past because some serving and retired officers have been convicted of corruption offences. When I talk about corruption I mean a police officer using their position as a police officer to engage in criminal activity. Any police officer committing burglaries or car theft or any other crime when off duty is clearly a criminal, but not necessarily corrupt. I’m talking about officers accepting bribes to look the other way, giving information about police activity to criminals, supplying criminals with a police radio, that sort of interaction with criminals.
How many corrupt officers there are is something which cannot be calculated because although some are convicted, some clearly get away with their criminality.
I actually believe the number of corrupt officers to be extremely low for several reasons. Police officers are more accountable for their actions and inactions today than at any time in history. Those same CCTV cameras that catch criminals in action also record each and every one of us, going about our daily lives more times than many people appreciate and that includes recording police officers,. Any officer being where they shouldn’t be or doing something they shouldn’t be doing is just as likely to be captured on CCTV as any other criminal.
It seems that every kid has a mobile telephone and many of these phones or other portable devices are capable of recording any conversation. Any officer considering giving a suspect a ‘verbal’ i.e. lying to what was actually said between them risks the suspect or one of the suspect’s friends producing a recording of any conversation.
Magistrates and juries understandably treat uncorroborated evidence with caution because if the evidence is challenged it boils down to one person’s word against another. Any corrupt officer would need a second corrupt officer to corroborated them if they wanted to be believed and that is extremely unlikely. Today’s breed of officer is fully aware of the dangers of corruption and are actively encouraged to blow the whistle on any officer they suspect of corruption. Those same officers also know that within every force there are ‘Sting team’ and that honesty and integrity testing takes place all the time. If one officer was to suggest to another that they lie about their evidence the second officer would almost certainly report it because it was the right thing to do, but also because for all they know they might be being tested.
But despite sting operations, CCTV and whistle blowing I honestly believe that the number of corrupt officers is very few is because primarily the young men and woman joining the police are honest, law-abiding individuals. The realities of the job do wear off some of the shine and after a few years service officers can become more pragmatic, but the core personalities, those traits which resulted in their selecting police service as a career rarely fade and corruption simply isn’t considered.
So, Is there corruption in the Police?
Maybe a few, but the number is minuscule to the number of honest, law-abiding officer.