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Institutional Reform and Corruption in Security and Public Services: Norway's Experience


Round table
June 19, 2003
Center for the Study of Democracy

On June 19, 2003 CSD hosted a discussion on Norway's experience in countering corruption in security forces and public services. The discussion is part of events aimed at facilitating the exchange of advanced expertise and experience between Norwegian and Bulgarian institutions to prepare the Bulgarian law enforcement officers to prevent corruption. Senior police officers from Norway met with experts from CSD Expert Group on Trafficking and Corruption, Ministry of Interior, the MoI Academy and the Bulgarian Open Government Initiative to share experience in countering corruption.

Mr. Stein Ulrich, Chief Constable, Mr. Tor Backe-Hansen, Chief of Police, Mr. Erling Bшrstad, Assistant Chief of Police and Ms. Margrethe Bjonge, Adviser in the International Section of the National Police Service of Norway emphasized the importance of the cooperation with East European countries which is useful not only for the beneficiary countries but it also stimulates the development of the Norwegian police system.

Generally, there are few cases of corruption in the public services, the judiciary and the police in Norway. Corruption appears to be a serious problem in the big oil companies operating in the country. There have been also cases of internal corruption (selling visas, falsifying documents etc.) in the national immigration service which employs foreign born residents to help solving ethnic problems.

During the conversation different methods to prevent and combat crime were discussed with the purpose to find a suitable approach for reducing crime and reforming law enforcement services in Bulgaria.

Mr. Ulrich said that the Norwegian police were undergoing reforms with the aim to reduce the administrative barriers to the operational work and to bring the police closer to the public. The 54 police districts were reorganized and reduced to 27. The chiefs of the police districts are elected for a period of 6 years and keep their rang beyond the end of their mandate.

“Community policing” in Norway was given as a good example of collaborative effort between the police and the community to identify problems of crime and disorder. It is targeting domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and juvenile crime. An interesting and very positive example of community policing is the formation of voluntary groups of adults called “night ravens” which patrol every Saturday and Sunday nights and can alarm the police in case of disturbance of the public order in the respective district.

The Norwegian police officers shared the opinion that the “zero tolerance” method in fighting the organized crime was not applicable neither acceptable for Norway where the police officers are very well educated and trained. The trust in law enforcement services is very important because they are expected to give flexible responses. A suggestion was made that the method could be used only in a narrow sector of combating crime.

For more see:
Visit of Norwegian police officials - Sept., 2002

Round table discussion feat. Judge Eva Joly - Oct., 2002

Prevention of corruption in security forces project

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