Could imply that police has been more effective since 1995, when the drop in crime began. This is largely inconclusive due to the restricted data available. The next issue is the one of police accountability. It is fine to say that the police are there to help you but how far are they prepared to go to do so? Who do they answer to when things go wrong? Most people agree that accountability is important because it is vital to prevent police misconduct- bad practice, corruption, miscarriages of justice and racism.
The 'tripartite structure' encompassing the Home Office, the Chief Constable and the Police authority have been responsible for police accountability since 1964. This structure has been widely criticized; 'Scarman Committees' were established in order to include the community but they were seen as ineffective by both the police and the public. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 requires the police to consult with the community. However, consultation is not the same as accountability meaning that the issue of accountability still needs to be addressed if it to become more effective.
Today, the police is more financially accountable than ever and policing policy is determined at national level when it be more effective if it were determined at local level. This would lead to police constables keeping a better eye on smaller groups of police officers instead of trying to manage the entire police force. The low standard of police accountability leads to major problems concerning police conduct. Police officers see themselves as the most closely watched of all the public institutions (Wilson, Ashton and Sharp 2001). However, upon speaking to someone who has a grievance against the police that view will not be reaffirmed.
Those people believe that the police are a law unto themselves. Who are we supposed to believe? I have already suggested that the police are effectively unaccountable. I am now going to investigate the matter of police malpractice, which is a result of inefficient police accountability. According to the Home Office report titled "Police Corruption in England and Wales: An assessment of current evidence" (2003), the following list is only an example of the corrupt acts performed by police officers: Sometimes acts of corruption are of 'noble-cause'.
This is when a police officer is convinced that someone is guilty of an offence and he will bend the rules to get that person convicted. Two of the most common methods are the exclusion of evidence and obtaining confessions under duress, although the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) has introduced procedures to eliminate those confessions. It is important to remember that a police officer's 'gut instinct' is not always the right one. How can one judge whether an individual is guilty or not on a whim? It is also vital to think about the people who have been wrongfully imprisoned as a result of these 'gut instincts'.
With regards to the origins of corruption, "not only was corruption identified across all of the forces involved in the study, but it also showed some similar patterns and was apparently linked to some similar underlying factors. This suggests that corruption arises in a systematic and predictable way from the nature and context of policing. "(Wilson et al 2001) These factors are: the individual circumstances of a person, the opportunities for corruption and the cultures and values surrounding a person. Individual circumstances can include the ethics of a person and whether he or she has received many complaints before.
Is their performance high? – if so maybe they are receiving some 'help,' or maybe they are helping themselves to information which they should not be seeing. Perhaps they are lacking in their personal lives- for example relationship problems, or the fight against an addiction- and need fulfilment from work in order to increase their confidence. The opportunity for corruption is plentiful. Access to files- the police runs a fairly open intelligence system- is extremely easy; someone could quite easily use them for their private gain.
There are many other opportunities, for instance when there is police officer-criminal interaction; the gym in a prison may be used by criminals as well as police officers; it has been suggested that socialising in social environments, for example in pubs and clubs, could bring police staff into contact with criminals. Other opportunities include relationships with informants, where the police officer would cover for the informant if he crossed the line, poor supervision or even targeting by organised crime.
The cultures and values surrounding a person- the so-called 'cop culture'- surprisingly include drug-taking, and the willingness to talk about it. Other inclusions are being aware of poor supervision and knowing that someone will cover up for you. The latter is a major obstacle in the fight against corruption because 'whistle-blowers' are few and far apart. A very small number of police officers have been prepared to stand up publicly against their corrupted colleagues because of the unwritten rule which states that you are supposed to stand by your colleagues.
If you break this rule you will be made to suffer. "One of the commonest ways of doing this is being sent to Coventry. " (Former Detective Superintendent, interview by Wilson et al 2001:). Potential whistle-blowers will also be discouraged by the story of PC Graham Cruttenden who, in 1980, took the very brave step of reporting some of his co-workers who had been stealing from a crime scene. His superiors commended him for his bravery but his colleagues beleaguered him for his so-called betrayal. He subsequently transferred from City of London to Hampshire Police (Guardian, 9 March 1999).