Issues around police corruption came to the fore last year amid the phone hacking scandal, which sparked concerns about relationships between the police and the media. Corrupt officers had allegedly been receiving illegal payments from journalists in return for handing over sensitive information, in some cases about well known public figures and celebrities. Following these revelations, in July last year, home secretary Theresa May ordered the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to produce a report on the scale of police corruption. The report, published last month, revealed there had been 8,542 allegations about police corruption made between 2008 and 2011. Of those, 837 were referred to the IPCC. The majority of the cases referred to the IPCC – 33.1 per cent – were for perverting the course of justice; 30.2 per cent for theft or fraud; 14.6 per cent for abuse of authority; 13.3 per cent for unauthorised disclosure; and 8.8 per cent for perverting the course of justice. Only 14 officers were dismissed from the police or required to resign after internal disciplinary proceedings. A further 18 officers were charged and prosecuted following IPCC investigations; 13 were found guilty.
In response to the IPCC’s report into police corruption, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said: “This report again recognises that corruption is neither endemic nor widespread in the police service. However, the actions of a few corrupt officers can corrode the great work of so many working hard daily to protect the public.” In response to claims about increased racism in police forces, ACPO said: “Police officers have thousands of interactions with members of the public each day and most end well. Since the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report, both the satisfaction with the police among black and minority ethnic communities, and their willingness to come forward and complain when things go wrong has risen.”
This article first appeared in issue no.930 of The Big Issue in the North.