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Corruption In Western Australia


Police corruption has become an endemic in the law enforcement sector in Western Australia as well as police agencies worldwide. For instance, it has been reported by Transparency International that eighty six countries have charged their police officers with corruption and also the police force in those countries is regarded to be the fourth most corrupt institution in the public sector (Transparency International, 2013). In a report by Human Rights Watch, police in Nigeria are corrupt in a way that they commit crimes against the public which they are supposed to protect (Forsythe, 2012).The report from World Bank indicates that police have been a source of impoverishment and harm in twenty three countries that were studied during the research (Dubois, 2013). This retrospect paper seeks to uncover the hidden relationships within the police force in Western Australia police force which leads to corruption while paying attention to the roles and functions of those relationship.

Lit review

In the research conducted by the Kennedy Royal Commission, it was revealed that there has been major corruption in police force in Western Australia. It also indicated that there has not been much effort in an attempt to curb the escalating police corruption ((Transparency International, 2013). Moreover, the research also brought out the relationship between the police force in Queensland and the organized crime in the same place (Evans, 2014). Due to these factors, research has to be done in order to determine the causes of the endemic corruption in the police force and their implications (Aldous, 2014).

Many respondents in an investigation into the corruption by the police officers will argue that the law enforcement is a difficult profession. This is in regard to the way police find themselves in the crossroads between upholding and enforcing the law and yet they are being attracted by illicit influence from unlawful citizens (Transparency International, 2013). Given the incidence where the person to be apprehended by the police is rich and can offer the officers money more than their employer, most of the officers will opt to take the money and quit the force (Aldous, 2014). Tim Newburn noted that the people bribing the police usually have little or nothing to lose and so much to gain through the bribery. For example, one unlawful citizen will prefer not to be arrested and do everything possible to help the charges go away (Aldous, 2014).

Constituents of corruption

Section 83 of Western Australia Criminal Code discussed in detail by Williams, (2015) states that corruption is said to have taken place if:

  1. A police officer without reasonable reason or lawful authority performs functions of the public office that he or she holds in matters that he or she has pecuniary interest in either directly or indirectly,

  2. An officer acts in a corrupt manner in dispensation of the duties of his or her employment with an intention of gaining benefit for themselves or for any other person.

Regarding the conditions stated above, it is suggestive that any abuse of position by the police officer constitutes corruption. According to Carl Klockers, corruption of police is entirely the corruption of the trust placed in them by the state (Galtung et al, 2013). Newburn states that basing on this definition, we can have several dimensions of corruption in law enforcement. These includes:

  1. Corruption of authority- under this dimension, Dr Barry Perry, an activist in Victoria, argues that there is a link between the ethics and the authority given to the police officers. Since the officers are mandated with providing security for the public, they take the opportunity to engage in self-serving activities while being shielded with the authority of their positions (Galtung et al, 2013). For example, there has been a record of complaints about police in western Australia confiscating illicit drugs like Methyl amphetamine (meth) and instead of having it taken into custody, they are resold by the officers to drug loads and therefore, the illicit drugs remain in circulation (Basir et al, 2016).

  2. Opportunistic theft- in an inquiry by Fitzgerald commission, officers in high positions in the Queensland police force were found to be engaging in corruption for self-interest (Van Vuuren, 2016). For example, Terence Lewis who was then a police commissioner, was discovered to receive bribes and he was later jailed (Lee et al, 2013). Moreover, in an article in South Africa, it is revealed that police officers accept bribes from citizens in order to cover a crime. Some of them are reported to have been arrested while others got away free of charge (Lee et al, 2013).

  3. Illegal activity protection- this dimensions include cover up of incidents by the police officers (Buttle et al, 2015). For example, there can be a number of accident cases reported in which drivers are drunk and instead of arresting the perpetrators, the police officers are bribed and let the offenders get away on a pretext that it was ‘just’ an accident like any other (Lee et al, 2013). Other crimes that are known to have been covered by the police officers in Victoria include fraud in benefits for employees whereby the officers are bribed by the employers (McAllister, 2014).

  4. Criminal acts by officers- according to a report by the Anti-Corruption Commission, it was discovered that the Victorian police force were involved in various criminal activities. These includes: shooting of criminals as a way of ‘paying back’ in cases where one of their officers had been shot earlier, murdering of society members that report corruption of the police officers among many other activities (Lee et al, 2013).

In New South Wales, an officer, Trevor Haken in recorded to have participated in criminals for them to continue operating and at the same time hiding vital evidence to ensure that the culprits were never convicted (Merrington et al, 2014).

  1. Planting of evidence like in cases of drug trafficking- according to Victorian Ombudsman, this has been the most organized corruption that has existed in police force for long(Paoli, 2014). In 1998, 550 police officers were charged and disciplinary measures leveled against them after investigations revealed that they had participated in doctoring of evidence from security hardware. Similar cases have been reported in other countries worldwide (Paoli, 2014).

  2. Bribery in order to avoid making arrests- in Royal Commission report after a research into arrests of Aboriginal Australians, it was revealed that police arrested minor drug users whereas, drug dealers and corporations were left free (Porter et al, 2015). This, like many countries worldwide is attributed to unethical police practices in which minority groups are discriminated against by use of excessive force during arrests compared to the reserved treatment the white-collar criminals receive (Paoli, 2014).

  3. Recruitment of the officers- this dimension in the corruption of police officers seem to cut across almost every country. To start with, in Victoria, Western Australia, there has been an unfair recruitment in the police force where only men were appointed with assumption that they necessary for the ‘war’ during combat with criminals (Porter et al, 2015). This only changed in 2001 after a female Victorian police commissioner, Christine Nixon was appointed due to the anti-discrimination legislation. During recruitment procedure, it is also evident that the exercise is not free and fair to all as it should be. As a matter of fact, there is possibility of physically fit people not to get recruited because they lack money to give to the recruiting officers. This is however done in a manner that the recruiting officers keep altering the recruitment tests in order to ensure that only the people that they want to get the job qualify and not those on successful order of merit. These tests will include ideal physical strictness among many subterfuges (Porter et al, 2015). Though there has been least research done in this dimension, it is a form of corruption that has been experienced in African countries like Kenya, where the recruitment procedure has been repeated several times due to uproar from the public that the recruitment was not fair.

In a different study, it was found out that corruption was taking place through police deviance which can be broken down to different dimensions. These are:

Such kind of corruption is not just experienced in Australia but also many countries across the world (Joseph, 2016). Countries like Mexico and Jamaica are among those affected by such form of corruption in their police force (Courtney, 2013). As discussed by Dawkins et al, 2015, the legislations in those countries are working on increasing the penalties for such corruption although there is not much literature in this area due to incompliance from respondents to reveal what the officers do.

Jack Herbert who is a London national and police officer was moved to Australia having no record of corruption (Keane & Bell, 2013). As he got to Australia, h involved himself with semi-legal gaming because he was the in control of money at Queensland police force, which placed him in apposition for receiving bribes (Kim & Sharman, 2013).

  1. State related corruption in police force, that is, in regard to people of influence in the political parties or the government where police fail to take action in case a prominent politician commits a crime (Keane & Bell, 2013). In Afghanistan, from a research by Transparency International, it was discovered that most of the police officers had to comply with the corrupt leaders whereby the officers who do not comply with such politicians risk losing their jobs (Giustozzi & Isaqzadeh, 2012). Efforts by the government to curb this form of corruption do not succeed because both the lawmakers and enforcers are involved. Besides, since officers in Western Australia are recruited from around the state, they are posted anywhere within Western Australia which proves problematic for their survival ((Dempsey & Forst, 2013).

  2. Causes of corruption in police force

In another study, corruption was found to have taken place in police force even in developed countries like United States and United Kingdom (Punch, 2013). This can be attributed to the corruptible human nature and other factors that Newburn notes in his report:

  1. Social status of the law enforcers where the place are regarded to be poorly paid in relation to other workers and this leads them to be corrupt in order to be recognized in the society (Doig & Theobald, 2013). The police officers worldwide have been known to occupy lowest social class, compared to other institutions like defense forces. Due to this, the wealthy white collar criminals tend to entice them with bribes to enable them satisfy their basic requirements which the salaries cannot fulfil (Keane & Bell, 2013). For example, in Kenya, research by Transparency International, it has been established that the traffic officers are lowly paid and yet their worth is more than it is expected considering most of them have no other investment which is an indication of their participation in dubious means (Hope, 2013).

The government in Western Australia has drafted bills that will see the officers earn just like their counterparts in the same job group.

  1. Discretion- since the officers are in a position where they choose which part of the law will be enforced and during what times, they form a police culture in which they work their way up in managerial posts by sharing the ‘fruits’ they get through corruption with their superiors which then leads to their undue promotion (Hess et al, 2014).

This proposal as a matter of fact is necessary in that, it will enable the researcher to establish the validity of the various corruption complaints against the officers. For example, not all complaints are valid for investigation because they can be taken care of by response from management.

The research is to be carried out in two phases. In the first phase, there will be examining of data on corruption from different sources. The sources include national commissions that have conducted research on the police corruption. These commissions include:

  1. Anti-Corruption Commission

  2. Human Rights Commission

  3. Transparency International

  4. Other inquiries within the subject

Under this phase, the extent to which corruption in western Australian police force and the world at large will be examined (Williams, 2015). These are includes:

  1. The records of complaints by the public against the officers,

  2. The relationship between police corruption and the crime rate in western Australia and the world in general

  3. The role of the government and legislation in regulation of the corruption activities by the police

In the second phase, the researcher is to conduct survey which includes completing questionnaires. The views from this questionnaire are to be compared to the results from earlier research by other people or organizations. This is intended to answer the questions like:

  1. How does the public perceive the conduct of police officers in Western Australia?

  2. Does the public participate in the fight against police corruption and if so, in which ways?

  3. Is the public content with the efforts the government has put in place in the fight against corruption in the police force?

  4. What does the public perceive to be the cause of the prevalent corruption in the law enforcement?


The data required for the first phase will include publications by the government in the government gazette, and also the electronic records from the databases for the various commissions. The records should be accessed with the consent of the relevant authorities.


Since the research is about a well-established institution, the data to be analyzed will accessed from various stations. The data will include the profile of individual police officers, the biographical recruitment records and the payment records of the police officers against their net worth.

Given the available data, the analysis of the relationship between the earning of the officers and their net worth will be established. Moreover, the profile of the officers will reveal the record of their previous involvement in the criminal activities backed up by the inconsistent relationship between the net worth and their earnings. This will be aided with data on investment by the officers if any.

Data analysis

Numerical data like the earning of officers, net worth and responses from the respondents to questionnaires will be entered using excel spreadsheet (Gatignon, 2014). With this data, it will be easy for tabulation and import for analysis and development of graphs using SPSS.

Basing on the research question (ii) of the first phase and the records on salaries and net worth of the officers, canonical correlation analysis has to be performed in order to establish the relationship between the rate of crime and police corruption (Gatignon, 2014). Using this procedure, it will be assumed that the errors are special cases and therefore will be treated as such. Both police corruption and officers’ salaries will be entered as predictors whereas crime incidences in the region and net worth of the officers will be the outcome variables. This analysis aims at establishing the role police corruption plays in propagation of crimes in the region, and also if the net worth of the officers concur with their salaries given the officers do not operate other known legal businesses. If the analysis shows there are more incidences of crime where police officers are more corrupt, then it implies that police corruption influences chances of crimes taking place. Moreover, if the net worth of the officers is more than the expected savings from their salaries, then it can be concluded that the officers get money through dubious means, that is, corruption (Gatignon, 2014).

Discussion and Implication

Conclusively, it is evident that corruption is a widespread disease in the contemporary Australian police department. Studies about corruption among the law enforcers have proved that the corrupt officers are driven by self-interest together with existing forces in the society (Gebel, 2012). The studies reveal that police officers participate in corruption for the sake of earning extra cash since in most of the situations, they are poorly paid. Besides, the officers want to be accepted in the society as wealthy like other members apart from practicing the corruption due to the influence from prominent people (Stinson et al, 2013). In this paper, it has been established that the corrupt officers have a different profile contrary to what they really do. That is to say, they may not have criminal background and yet practice corruption at a later stage in life when opportunities to make money present themselves through corruption. As presented in Herbert’s case, he does not participate in corruption until at a later stage when he is the head at the Queensland police (Stinson et al, 2013).

Future research needs to be conducted under corruption in law enforcement system so as to establish more theories on the causes of the corruption in order to realize the relationship between developing crime rate and police corruption so as to be in a better position for fighting the corruption (Quah, 2014). Just like Quah, (2014) discusses six best ways of dealing with corruption in law enforcement system, agencies across the world have to design appropriate means of dealing with the rising menace of police corruption so as to reduce crime incidences around the world.


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