Corruption is seen to be a major problem across the EU, both in terms of the EU’s institutions themselves and in the member countries. A major report can be found at – http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/02/17/corruption-considered-a-major-problem-the-uk/ – with the full EU report here – http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_374_en.pdf
In the depths of the report you will find that interviews with around 1300 people across the UK revealed that a third of UK citizens think that bribery or abuse of power is widespread among the police. By comparison the Finnish seem relatively confident in their police force, with just 7% considering abuse of power as an issue for police in Finland. Generally speaking, across the report, those having the hardest economic times (struggling to pay bills) tend to believe there is more corruption than those better off.
58% of the those asked in the UK see bribery or abuse of power is widespread among politicians, while an astonishing 98% of those asked in Greece saw corruption as a major problem. The costs incurred by corruption in the EU are around £100 billion per year. Worrying then that the majority of Europeans (70%) think that corruption is unavoidable and that it has always existed.
The report is based on typical social science opinion polling and doesn’t break much new ground. Work like this can be found buried under our glossy ‘news production’ for years. Big business runs on tax evasion it makes into avoidance by bribing politicians. Britain is the hub of massive offshore tax havens. Academics even attempt to justify it all through Laffer curves and the like – based on the notion pretty much anything is better than letting government get its hands on the money. Hedge fund favourite Apple sits on a huge offshore haul, and, of course, crude worker exploitation in China.
Opinion, of course, may be just what people make up in their tiny little minds after a conversation with Fairies. The big message may be that human behaviour tends to corruption when the system doesn’t keep us honest – but this is facile as one only has to watch sports to know this. We may be approaching a time in which we need to sweep our organisational systems clean, with all the dangers this brings in changing power relations. We need something as severe as revolution, but we’ve seen plenty and they have done little about the problem. Behaviour doesn’t change, just possession of the whip and how can do the ripping off. All the anti-corruption design of the New York PD left it needing Bill Braxton and communism has been little more than a notable failure (weirdly many of our performance management schemes are broadly ‘Soviet’).
Hard evidence on police corruption comes from areas like wire-taps and long-term observation. If we turned this kind of investigation on our politicians and big business (which is done at micro-level in Panorama and Dispatches), god knows what we’d find. Obama is preventing any such investigation into bank mortgage fraud and the rest – so the Establishment must know the likely outcome.
If this EU survey had caught me in its questioning, I’d have said I think our police are corrupt. But it would not have gone on to ask why or whether I think I’d get a better deal from them in comparison with other places I’ve lived (generally a big yes). The corruption issue for me is that our cops are not loosed on corruption in our wider societies.