Friday, January 30, 2015
The Guardian Popular Today - Police told to review nearly 2,000 cases of alleged corruption
A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has found that no action was taken in two-thirds of the investigations into alleged police corruption last year.
Only 900 police officers or staff were disciplined or left the service out of more than 3,000 investigations, the report published on Friday reveals. Examples of corruption in police forces included drug-related offences, bribery, theft, sexual misconduct and unauthorised disclosure of information.
HM inspector of constabulary, Mike Cunningham, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that one reason so many cases were dropped is that the allegations were unfounded. However, he added: “One is that the allegation is unfounded or malicious, and there is some of that, but we cannot rule out that some of those allegations have not been properly inquired into or investigated. We’re asking chief constables to review the no-further-action complaints that are in their forces.”
The review of 1,685 cases will place added strain on forces already facing severe pressure in the wake of budget cuts.
The report, entitled Integrity Matters, found no evidence of “endemic” corruption in police forces in England and Wales but said many forces were not “seeking out intelligence on corruption proactively”.
It also raised concerns that anti-corruption investigators were not using their full powers and were missing opportunities to gather evidence.
Cunningham said: “We have seen evidence that the emphasis on ethical conduct has led to some extreme behaviour. Some officers, for example, refusing to take a cup of tea with members of their community. We at HMIC believe that it would be a crying shame if officers lost the ability to do that. But the service does need to be vigilant for wrongdoing.”
He added: “There is clear evidence that the leadership of the service is recognising that this area is important and taking it seriously. But we’ve also found that officers, while they recognise there are means of reporting bad behaviour on the part of their colleagues, don’t have confidence that those systems for reporting are as safe or anonymous as they should be.
“All forces have those systems, but over half of the officers who responded to our survey said they didn’t trust the confidentiality of those systems … and they feared repercussions. There is work to do on the part of chief constables to enhance the confidence of people to come forward and report.”
The 226-page report, commissioned by the home secretary, Theresa May, found that most officers and staff were “honest and professional” but highlighted the face that police forces are not obliged to report whether a complaint of misconduct involved corruption.
Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer, the national lead for police standards and ethics, said the report highlighted the “strong leadership demonstrated by senior police officers in their commitment to root out corruption”.
She added: “Corruption is neither endemic nor widespread in the police service. However, the actions of a few corrupt officers can corrode the reputation of the vast majority who work hard every day to protect the public. We will continue to improve our approach so that those who are not fit to be in the police are held to account and removed.”
The College of Policing said its code of ethics was being adopted by all forces and it was exploring how counter-corruption training could be expanded.
The college’s chief executive, Chief Constable Alex Marshall, added: “Work has already begun to provide guidance to forces for best practice in managing whistleblowing.
“This should increase confidence among officers that their force will know how to deal with any disclosure appropriately.”