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United Kingdom

A number of corruption scandals in the late 1990s directed public attention to police corruption, which contributed to the problem recognition and acknowledgement of the endemic nature of corruption within law enforcement by police force departments. This in turn led to important structural and strategic changes in England and Wales in recent years.

In 1999, a significant change in the structure of police force departments dealing with complaints and misconduct took place, following a thematic report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) - “Police Integrity: Securing and Maintaining Public Confidence” , which mapped out a number of high profile corruption cases. Police forces began to establish a more proactive capability to counter corruption concentrated within Professional Standards Units (PSU).

The anti-corruption activities of these units are based on the ‘slippery slope’ doctrine: that various forms of smaller misdemeanors eventually lead to more serious criminal behaviour. In the UK, the informal handling of less serious violations (e.g. through oral reprimand) was completely replaced by formal
registration. This has become an integral part of a broader system for professional standards in the police, described in a key HMIC report “Raising the Standard. A Thematic Inspection of Professional Standards”.

Further readings on police corruption and anti-corruption in the UK include:


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