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Protector or Predator? Tackling police corruption in South Africa ISS Monograph No. 182 by Gareth Newham & Andrew Faull 1 September 2011. Open Society Foundation for South Africa. Content . Defining Police Corruption Police corruption as an occupational hazard

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Protector or Predator?

Tackling police corruption in South Africa

ISS Monograph No. 182

by Gareth Newham & Andrew Faull

1 September 2011

Open Society Foundation for South Africa

  • Defining Police Corruption
  • Police corruption as an occupational hazard
  • Key causes of police corruption
  • Corruption in the SAPS
  • The SAPS’ track record on tackling corruption
  • Promoting Professional Policing
what is police corruption
What is Police Corruption?
  • The misuse of police authority for personal or group gain.
  • Involves the abuse of position
  • Not all police abuse of power is criminal
  • Is the direct opposite of professional policing
police corruption as an occupational hazard
Police Corruption as an occupational hazard
  • Corruption = monopoly + discretion – accountability (Klitgaardt, 1988)
  • Police are uniquely positioned within the public service with regards to the ability to deploy force and restrict civilian rights. They often work with very little supervision and have significant discretion in deciding how and when to act.
  • Decades of international research on police corruption has found that:
    • Corruption is a fundamental occupational of policing in all countries
    • It takes many forms and changes over time
    • It typically involves group behavior and can easily become systemic
    • The extent of corruption is directly related to organisational and managerial shortcomings
    • The key difference between policing agencies is the extent of the problem. Where it becomes endemic at a senior management level, the entire police agency can be described as ‘corrupt’.
police corruption a global phenomenon

Police corruption: A global phenomenon

“Corruption is found in virtually all countries, in all forces, and at every level of the organisation at some time.”(Lawrence Sherman, 1978, Scandal and Reform: Controlling Police Corruption).

“What we found is that the problem of police corruption extends far beyond the corrupt cop. It is a multi-faceted problem that has flourished…not only because of opportunity and greed, but because of a police culture that exalts loyalty over integrity…because of willfully blind supervisors who fear the consequences of a corruption scandal more than corruption itself…and because for years the NYPD abandoned its responsibility to insure the integrity of its members”(Mollen Commission, 1994)

News of the World allegedly paying 100 000 bribes to Scotland Yard police officials in the United Kingdome (2011)

key causes of police corruption
Key Causes of Police Corruption

1. Environmental Factors

  • Marginalised groups (undocumented foreign nationals)
  • Organised Crime & illicit markets (illegal alcohol, drugs, gambling)
  • Inappropriate political interference in the police service

2. Organisational

  • Inadequate police leadership
  • Poor management and supervision (recruitment, training, promotions & career-paths, weak discipline & internal accountability, etc.)
  • Police culture (e.g. code of silence)

3. Individual

  • Incongruent personal attitudes and behaviour
  • Low morale
  • Financial mismanagement
police corruption in sa during apartheid

Police Corruption in SA:During apartheid

The SAP was very insular, secretive with little external accountability

This meant that it was very difficult to identify or expose corruption

However there is evidence of systemic fraud and criminality:

Auditor General reports show increase in police fraud from 1966 onwards

The trial record of Eugene De Kock (insurance & informer fee fraud, smuggling)

Overlooking of pass and liquor infringements in exchange for bribes (lodge)

Evidence of widespread corruption in the ‘homeland’ police forces. These forces later merged with the SAP (40 000 personnel) in 1994/95 to form the SAPS.

Open Society Foundation for South Africa

police corruption in sa since democracy

Police Corruption in SASince Democracy

The SAPS cannot be said to be a corrupt organisation.

However, various sources suggest corruption is widespread and systemic:

Numerous surveys of civilians and of police suggest perceptions, experiencesand knowledge of widespread corruption

SAPS Policy Advisory Council (2007) said SAPS had insufficient capacity to investigate corruption

It also noted that discipline was poor, codes of conduct and ethics were not adhered to and that disciplinary issues were not dealt with timeously

Various studies show abuse & corruption targeting specific groups such as sex workers and foreign nationals

Individual, organisational and environmental risk factors for police corruption are high in South Africa.

saps track record on corruption

SAPS’ track record on corruption

Police corruption identified as a ‘priority crime’ in 1996

Established SAPS Anti-Corruption, grew in stature & success until 2002

SAPS Codes of Conduct and Ethics developed & signed by all members

Three national strategies developed but little evidence of implementation

National Commissioner Jackie Selebi convicted of corruption

ACU mandate moved to Organised Crime/Hawks

Positive developments with SAPS Anti-Corruption Strategy in 2010 but more commitment needed from top management.

The SAPS Anti-Corruption Strategy requires public engagement & education

rhetoric on corruption

Rhetoric on corruption

Too often rhetoric has referred to ‘rotten apples’ or ‘rotten potatoes’ when it’s really about ‘rotten barrels’

However, Minister Mthethwa recently stated that ‘Dealing with corruption … is not just about dealing with the individual cases and people that that come to our attention, but also about making sure our systems and process are able to prevent corruption.’

‘We have not been big on quality, we have been big on quantity. People have been thrown in by chasing quantity rather than quality.’ – Gen Cele

‘We need to ensure that we are able to recruit the right kind of people and then to train and develop these people into the kind of Cop we want to see.’ SAPS Performance Plan 2011/12

leadership for promoting police professionalism

Leadership for promoting police professionalism

The Minister and National Commissioner of the SAPS develop and drive the vision of the SAPS as an agency that is widely respected because all its members adhere to high standards of professional conduct and integrity.

SAPS leadership must consistently act to promote police professionalism by tackling misconduct, poor service delivery and corruption.

SAPS leadership must ensure that policies, regulations and systems are in place to achieve this vision and these must be independently verified (AG, PSC, PP) & reported on before parliament. Action must be taken & reported on where shortcomings are identified.

All police commanders must be held directly accountable both for behaving in line with the core values of the SAPS,(i.e. integrity; respect for the law; and service excellence,) and holding those under their command accountable to these standards. 

saps priorities for promoting police professionalism

SAPS priorities for promoting police professionalism

Enhancing accountability

Improving systems for receiving, processing & analysing complaints

Establish an internal professional standards/anti-corruption unit

Improving internal disciplinary management and systems

Building a culture of police integrity

Ensure core values are evident in all police work

Recognise& reward honest policing and officials who report corruption

Improve command and control, better training for managers

Promoting community engagement

A sustained campaign to educate the public around what to expect from police

Encourage reporting both positive and negative behaviour by police

community action for promoting police professionalism

Community Action for promoting police professionalism

In focus groups with 150 individuals who had between them experienced over 50 incidents of police corruption and abuse, only one had reported it (and was ignored).

Police can’t tackle corruption without community support but they need to earn and help foster that support.

By giving the public the right guidance, information and motivation the SAPS, metros and other law enforcement agencies can work with communities to foster a civic culture that demands honest, efficient, professional policing, and punishes poor service and abuse of power.

thank you www issafrica org crimehub

Thank you

Open Society Foundation for South Africa