Police Corruption in the UK: How Extensive is the Problem?
The general perception which exists on the subject of police corruption in the UK is that it is very much an exceptional phenomena and at the end of the day the law will always prevail. But how realistic actually is this view when all of the statistics are earnestly examined under the cold light of day? The following article details a number of quite shocking cases of police corruption which have come to light over the years from the late 1990’s to as recent as this year, 2014.
A branch of the Specialist Crimes & Operations section of the Metropolitan Police, the Flying Squad has the responsibility of dealing with some of Britain’s most violent and dangerous criminals. The squad was made famous by the 70’s TV series “The Sweeney” but yet they have gained a
bad reputation themselves when it comes to corruption. In 1997 some 30 members of the Flying Squad were accused of being involved in drug dealing, burglary and accepting bribes (The Independent - Flying Squad in corruption scandal). The corrupt officers were caught breaking into the flat of a known drug dealer and stealing cannabis with a street value of £500,000 which they intended to resell. It was alleged the corrupt officers routinely sold the drugs they seized in raids and also stole valuables from the crime scenes. They were also accused of accepting bribes from criminals in return for the destruction of criminal evidence.
The 70's TV series "The Sweeney" gave the Flying Squad a popular image.
In 2003 members of the Flying Squad were jailed for stealing a £200,000 share of a £1.5 million security van robbery (The Guardian - Met detectives jailed in corruption inquiry). The £200,000 represented the share of the robbery taken by an employee of the firm Security Express who acted as an insider. During the heist itself a fake security van had turned up and the money was loaded into it before the real security van could arrive. Members of the Flying Squad then pocketed part of the recovered stolen money for themselves.
In April this year it came to light that members of the Flying Squad were investigated for their part in the kidnapping and holding to ransom the wife of a security van driver (Mail Online - Corrupt Flying Squad officers investigated kidnapping of cash driver). In the plan the wife of the security van driver would be kidnapped and the driver made to hand over the £50,000 ransom money which he was expected to pick up from the depot. The driver and his wife had previously been victimized by the exact same crime and it was the case that the corrupt officers in question had conducted the investigation into this crime. It was the plan of the corrupt officers who would also be conducting the investigation into the second kidnapping and ransom, to use their position to cover their own tracks. It also came out during the criminal investigations into the corrupt officers that one of the officers had allegedly carried out a similar plan in the past, netting some £40,000.
Just this year Operation Tiberius came to light which was a report compiled in 2002 into the full extent of corruption within the Metropolitan Police (The Independent - Police files reveal 'endemic corruption' at the Met). The report concluded that corruption was “endemic” within the police service. The entire investigation produced some 260 crates of information but only a small percentage of the corrupt officers actually mentioned in the report have ever been brought to justice. It was also revealed by Operation Tiberius how criminal gangs were in the habit of using contacts within the Freemasons in order to recruit corrupt officers within the Metropolitan Police (The Independent - Revealed: How gangs used the Freemasons to corrupt police). The officers who compiled the report stated that such a method of recruitment was one of the most difficult areas to prosecute and prevent against.
It was also revealed by Operation Tiberius the full extent to which criminals had infiltrated the Metropolitan Police (The Independent - Exclusive: Scotland Yard's rotten core). Through a system of bribery criminals were able to gain access to information from police databases including information on current criminal investigations. Corrupt officers had also supplied criminals with information on police investigation methods and surveillance techniques which would enable the criminals to avoid prosecution. The report also revealed how police officers had sometimes even directly involved themselves in illegal drugs importation and the laundering of money.
Lady Justice who adorns the Central Criminal Court or Old Bailey.
But even more shocking than this was the revelation from Operation Tiberius that the problem of corruption went even further than just the Metropolitan Police but affected Britain’s entire criminal justice system (The Independent - The corruption of Britain: UK's key institutions infiltrated by criminals). According to the report some of the institutions affected by the problem of corruption are the Crown Prosecution Service, HM Revenue & Customs, the Prison Service and the City of London Police. The problem of interference from criminal gangs even extends to juries and the legal profession in general. The report details how jurors can be threatened or bribed into giving not guilty verdicts and it is even reported how ‘get out of jail tickets’ can be sold for £50,000 each.
It has been publically admitted that the extent of the problem effectively makes it impossible for the police to take action against the criminal gangs responsible. Alastair Morgan, whose brother Daniel was about to expose the connections between Metropolitan Police officers and criminal gangs before being tragically murdered in 1987, said the following, “Despite all the protestations by police that things have changed since the ‘bad old days’, this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. The police have no desire to tackle this. It would be too damaging to have it all aired in open court. The Met is a highly political organisation.” (The Independent - The corruption of Britain: UK's key institutions infiltrated by criminals)
It is difficult to see where exactly all this is heading and of course left unchecked the problem will inevitably only worsen as time goes on. The question must be asked therefore is Britain heading in the direction of a ‘mafia state’? It is said to have already happened in a number of countries overseas where organised crime and government share the same common ground and have apparently come to a mutual understanding (Wikipedia - Mafia state). Such a system of government has become known as a ‘kleptocracy’ where government officials and gangsters alike have only the one aim in mind, to make lots of money, and at the end of the day have little concern either for the moral consequences of their actions or the suffering and discomfort caused to the average citizen.