Public officials engage in corruption when they abuse their authority for private interests (Kleinig, 1996). These actions are criminalized in many countries. Where crimes are committed, the pursuit of corrupt actors could ordinarily fall within the mandate of the police. In many countries, however, police institutions do not occupy a prominent position in an anti-corruption architecture. Possible reasons include a misperception that corruption is a special category of offense that police are ill-suited to tackle. It is also often the case that police officers in corrupt societies are themselves part of the problem rather than a viable solution. While this latter reason represents a significant challenge, police are not always monolithic in this regard; as conflicts within some corrupted police agencies have generated substantial anti-corruption activity (Sherman, 1978). The wide variety of the extent and power relations of corruption patterns within police agencies offers good reasons to study examples of success in policing high-level corruption.
Developing the potential for such police efforts to succeed requires a science of the anti-corruption role the police can play and the conditions that enhance that function. While that science is merely nascent at present, it could flourish in short order with adequate investment. That science would aim to foster global development of the police role, among other actors, in combatting high-level corruption.
A science of anti-corruption policing is desperately needed. Pervasive corruption in countries weakens security institutions, causes harm, and limits life opportunities for a significant number of the world’s citizens. It is also believed to facilitate transnational criminal and gang activity, which challenges the rule of law across the globe.
It is, therefore, encouraging that an extensive network of international and regional organizations, bilateral donors, international financial institutions, and civil society organizations is working with governments to curb corruption and build criminal justice system capacity to address corruption. As a part of that network, the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) provides foreign assistance and supports capacity building for criminal justice systems and police organizations in approximately 90 countries. In 2018, guided by The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, INL created the Office of Knowledge Management to assemble evidence from research to inform its work. To support its efforts to synthesize findings from scientific research, INL asked the Committee on Law and Justice of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (National Academies) to convene an ad hoc consensus committee to review and assess existing evidence on policing institutions, police practices and capacities, and police legitimacy in the international context.
THE COMMITTEE’S CHARGE
The National Academies assembled the Committee on Evidence to Advance Reform in the Global Security and Justice Sectors (“the committee”) to review the available research evidence on how police reform can promote the rule of law (including human rights) and protect the public. See Box 1-1 for the committee’s perspective on rule of law and protection of the population. When in a position to contribute to anti-corruption efforts, police must adhere to the rule of law. This is the only way to ensure that police are not otherwise politically co-opted but acting in ways consistent with laws and international human rights norms and standards.
The committee comprises experts in criminology, economics, international and organized crime, law, policing, and political science and brings knowledge and experience from a portfolio of work that spans four continents. Such experience includes conducting research and advising governments on police policy in several countries including but not limited to Afghanistan, Brazil, Colombia, England, Ghana, India, South Korea, Uganda, and the United States (see the Appendix for more details).
The committee was charged with producing five reports, each addressing areas of interest to INL (see Box 1-2). To assist with this assignment, the committee developed a series of five public information-gathering sessions to bring together researchers and practitioners with experience in each sub-topic to be examined.
This report is the fifth in this series, addressing the following question in the committee’s charge: What are the systemic features needed to
APPROACH TO THE STUDY
Like the others in the series, this report reflects the development of consensus advice to address the questions in the charge. The committee was tasked to carry out the entire study within a year and a half and release each of the five reports separately and sequentially during this period. In forming its advice, the committee draws specifically on information from a prepared paper and a single workshop on the topic of the fifth question and on its members’ experience with policing research and their technical advice for the design and implementation of policing policies and practices.
The public workshop, entitled “Police Role in Combatting High-Level Corruption,” was held virtually on March 24 and 25, 2022. Workshop participants included members of the committee, representatives from INL, and international researchers and practitioners in the area of policing and high-level corruption. An effort was made to assemble a diverse set of participants who work with or study the police in different contexts, including those in Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the United States.
The workshop discussions were framed around a commissioned paper prepared by Débora Araújo Dutra Ferreira and Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, both from the Hertie School in Berlin, Germany. The Ferreira and Mungiu-Pippidi (2022) paper set up a framework to understand national contexts of corruption. It examined available evidence and literature on anti-corruption interventions and the challenges of considering police independence from the interests of political and societal groups.
The workshop was designed to gather additional and comparative perspectives on the lessons learned from anti-corruption efforts and investigations and prosecutions of high-level corruption. Participants were asked to consider any available research that could inform what police should or should not do to combat high-level corruption and how they might be insulated from political consequences. Discussions at the workshop, including those about the commissioned papers, were a primary source of information for the committee’s deliberations. See Chapter 2 for a summary of case studies presented at the workshop.
The committee met four times virtually after the workshop to deliberate on what it learned from the papers and heard at the workshop to reach a consensus on conclusions and recommendations for its report. The committee’s draft report was subsequently reviewed by a set of similar subject matter experts and revised in response to review per the National Academies’ procedures before being finalized for release.
The report presents the committee’s assessment of the information it has gathered. It focuses on existing knowledge about the success or failure of law enforcement assistance in efforts to reduce high-level corruption, and what aspects of the problem require further research. It does not contain
complete proceedings of the workshop but instead draws on resources and descriptions from the workshop discussion as relevant.
Throughout its work on all five reports in this study, the committee has recognized that corruption is a major obstacle in efforts to reform police activities in the international context. The success of any intervention in reducing high-level corruption may have important consequences for the effectiveness of any other strategy aimed at the police’s ability to promote the rule of law. However, corruption is a complex, multifaceted, and longstanding phenomenon. Modern corruption often has historical roots and is tied to cultural and social factors. The expression and implications of high-level corruption vary by country. Common or particularly problematic harms caused by corrupt high-level governance include violation of human rights, extortion from business owners and citizens, harassment of journalists or political opponents, mismanagement and filtering of financial and other resources away from social services, systemic bribery, weakened institutional controls as well as accountability, inequities in the administering the rule of law, miscounting of ballots in ostensibly democratic elections, and systematic violence against specific groups of people viewed as undesirable by a political regime.
Further, police themselves can be tied up in high-level corruption, for example, by participating in one or more of the harms identified above or by being called upon (i.e., co-opted by political elites) to intimidate or arrest those engage in investigating corruption cases. The task, therefore, in many contexts, would be to identify strategies that inhibit police from being active participants in high-level corruption so that they can be effective in fighting it. While a review of the literature and evidence on police corruption would be worthwhile, the committee was specifically asked to focus on the police’s role in combatting high-level corruption, and as such, the report approaches knowledge development from this angle.
Defining high-level corruption in a way that it can be examined across contexts is not easy, especially given the wide variety of roles in which it is committed and of the forms it takes. Unlike with other issues, such as street crime and police use of force, high-level corruption there is often no paper trail at all, nor accessible data. These challenges make research on effective models for combatting corruption difficult and were in the foreground of the committee’s deliberations. Despite these difficulties, a range of work has evolved to understand the indicators, contributors, and consequences of corruption and ways to minimize corruption and its risks. This report does not attempt to synthesize and capture the broad literature on corruption, nor was it asked to. Here the committee discusses some elements of that literature that may have relevance to defining and improving the police’s role in anti-corruption efforts.
THE INSTITUTIONAL IMPERATIVE AND POLITICAL PERILS OF ENGAGING POLICE
Scholars have identified a range of social, economic, and institutional costs of corruption that are difficult to overstate. Corruption has been shown to curb economic growth (Del Monte and Papagni, 2001; d’Agostino, Dunne, and Pieroni, 2016), contribute to worse health outcomes (Azfar and Gurgur, 2008; Factor and Hang, 2015), and exacerbate inequality and poverty (Gupta, Davoodi, and Alsono-Terme, 2002; Gyimah-Brempong, 2002). Accordingly, scholars have found that corruption is associated with lower levels of trust in and perceived legitimacy of political institutions (Chang and Chu, 2006; Morris and Klesner, 2010; Seligson, 2003).
The profound harms caused by corruption and its threat to the rule of law create an imperative to engage police, given their investigative and prosecutorial functions, in the fight against institutionalized corruption. Existing research suggests that investigative and judicial institutions play an important role in combating corruption, which may boost accountability, improve citizen trust, and bolster public service delivery. One study of the anti-corruption program conducted by investigators in a federal oversight agency in Brazil that randomly selected municipalities for audits of their use of federal funds found an improvement in public service delivery among local governments that underwent audits (Funk and Owen, 2020). Another study of the same program found support for democratic accountability when voters rejected incumbents in subsequent elections following local media dissemination of audit findings that revealed significant corruption (Ferraz and Finan, 2008). Research findings from survey experiments in South Africa and Tunisia, meanwhile, suggest that citizen perceptions that courts are impartial in the pursuit of high-level corruption lead to greater institutional trust (Barbabela, Pellicer, and Wegner, 2022). Findings from such studies and others (see Chapter 2) are suggestive of the promise of transparency and investigative powers to curb high-level corruption. To the extent that police can use their authorities to increase the monitoring and collecting of information to support investigations, they may serve an important role in fighting corruption.
However, existing research is also suggestive of the perils of engaging police in fighting high-level corruption, notably the high susceptibility of corruption investigations to politicization. Police involvement in combatting high-level corruption puts police institutions, or specialized units within them, at the center of highly contested and politically sensitive processes. This reality calls for great caution, and rigorous research into the institutional design and other factors that can best safeguard police impartiality and shield police from political interference. The recent police reform in the country of Georgia is a case in point: scholars have shown
that, despite being widely celebrated as a successful reform that rooted out police corruption, strengthened police capacity, and restored citizen trust, the police of Georgia nevertheless lacked independence from political interference, turning it into a politicized instrument of incumbent rulers (Marat, 2018; O’Shea, 2022).
Despite some instances where the public sought to remove politicians for their abuse of authority (as above in Brazil), the empirical evidence on the ability of democratic elections to curb high-level corruption is mixed. Researchers in a range of contexts have shown that politicians often pay little cost at the ballot box for corruption (De Vries and Solaz, 2017; Pavão, 2018), limiting the incentive to investigate elected officials who are likely to remain in office and continue to exercise authority over policing. One explanation for the endurance of politicians credibly accused of corruption is that accusations of corruption are often interpreted by the citizenry through partisan lenses and political allegiances, as demonstrated by both cross-national surveys and case studies (Anderson and Tverdova 2003; Botero et al., 2015). Another explanation comes from case studies of Argentina, Chile (Balán, 2011), and in Russia (Sharafutdinova, 2010) which suggest the potential for the politicization of corruption accusations, demonstrating how intra-party opponents and opposition parties leverage corruption allegations against each other to try to gain power. Thus, rather than being seen solely as bolstering the rule of law, existing research suggests that corruption investigations may sometimes be perceived as—and sometimes are—politically motivated. Further study of the Argentine case, drawing on quantitative analysis of highly detailed data on bribe-collection by high-ranking officials, provides additional evidence of the deeply entrenched nature of corruption within political systems. That case demonstrates that bribe collection was tied not to the personal enrichment of individual bureaucrats, but rather to the financing of electoral campaigns (Figueroa, 2021).
DEFINING HIGH-LEVEL CORRUPTION
The term corruption is often used when referring to malpractice or fraudulent behavior by governments, businesses, or individuals. According to Max Weber’s (1978) classic formulation, at the core of every definition of public corruption is the sharp separation of private from public interest in the exercise of public authority. Even when limiting the discussion to “high-level’’ corruption, the term can have several definitions. For example, Hava (2015, p. 487) defines high-level corruption as “perpetrated, facilitated, managed or tolerated by persons in high levels of power, de facto or de jure, in or affecting the government.” To separate high-level corruption from everyday incidents with less of an impact socially or financially,
Transparency International proposes the need for a definition of “grand” corruption (Duri, 2020), describing it as “a systematic or well-organized plan of action involving high-level public officials that causes serious harm, such as gross human rights violations” (Transparency International, 2020). In their paper, Ferreira and Mungiu-Pippidi (2022) argue that this definition shines a light on the idea that there is a systematically corrupt context underlying high-level corruption.
For this report, and the objective to maximize the beneficial role of police, a precise definition of high-level corruption may not be necessary. Even the only legally binding international anti-corruption, multilateral treaty, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, was adopted without a definition (UNODC, 2003). What the treaty defines are the opposites of high-level corruption: good governance that should be transparent and accountable and have integrity and even consultation. The treaty provides several Articles on corrupt acts and guides parties on legislative and other measures on how to reduce these crimes (UNODC, 2003, Articles 14–25). The nature and extent of corruption and the individuals and groups involved will vary by country and community. Police tactics to combat corruption may also vary by context.
The committee recognizes that the police are just one set of actors with the capacity and duty to participate in controlling corruption. The ability of the police to assist in controlling high-level corruption is tied to related actions and motivations of stakeholders both inside and outside the government. Such actors include regulatory agencies and bodies, auditors, tax enforcement officials, special and standing anticorruption commissions, prosecutors, investigative journalists, civil society, international courts, and even international donor organizations. It is quite common across the globe to raise awareness of high-level corruption, prompting formal investigations, through investigative journalism or other civil society action. Including police in the work of other agencies, such as anticorruption commissions, can be one way of engaging police in controlling corruption.
The room for police to maneuver and contribute to anti-corruption efforts will likely be affected by the context in which they are operating. As noted in the committee’s first report (NASEM, 2021, p. 19),
corruption and informal practices—both internal and external to the police organization—may have more sway over formal policies, structures, or practices and can fundamentally alter how police organizations function. Conditions such as when police are barely paid or resourced, where police work with directives that include political repression, or where there is overlap between police and political elites and organized crime greatly affect what can be achieved (see, e.g., Gerber and Mendelson, 2008).
TABLE 1-1 The Applicability of Anti-corruption Tools Varies by Context
|Judicial independence||Criminalization of corruption Party funding restrictions|
|Rule of law||Anti-corruption agencies|
|Fiscal transparency and economic oversight||Public financial management regulation Financial disclosures for officials Public procurement regulation|
|Freedom of the press||Whistleblower protection legislation Conflict of interest regulation Financial disclosures|
|Autonomous bureaucracy and law enforcement||Integrity regulation|
SOURCE: Ferreira and Mungiu-Pippidi (2022). Adapted after Mungiu-Pippidi and Dadasov (2016).
In Table 1-1, Ferreira and Mungiu-Pippidi (2022) offer a summary of tools for combatting corruption that could be considered when a particular context exists. For example, the lower the independence of the judiciary of a country (CEELI Institute, 2020; Linzer and Staton, 2015), the less advisable it is to adopt new legislation to curb corruption, as the enforcement of existing legislation may already be weak. Evidence exists of the negative effects of legislation in societies where corruption is the norm (Gutmann and Voight, 2020), such as added restrictions for political party funding resulting in increased corruption (Fazekas and Cingolani, 2017). Where the rule of law is absent, anti-corruption agencies may be used against political opponents. If a country does not meet the minimum criteria of freedom of the press, there is no point to having a Whistleblower Protection Act, which may even be dangerous for those it fails to protect. If an economy lacks regulatory oversight, asking officials to provide financial disclosures per se will not improve the control of corruption. If no fiscal transparency exists, public financial regulations matter very little, because there is no effective surveillance. If no autonomous bureaucracy exists, and the state is a vertically integrated pyramid of extraction, no ethical codes or soft ethical regulations will help. Nonetheless, according to Ferreira and Mungiu-Pippidi (2022), solutions to these problems exist with different actors: civil society, political opposition, or simply voters who can change a government. Specific regulations could come after the necessary conditions of an enabling context are created.
Corruption Assessment Tools and Indexes
Ferreira and Mungiu-Pippidi (2022) report that most successful anticorruption efforts rely on top-down approaches in contexts in which corruption was already relatively controlled, or on a combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches (civil society gets a committed government elected and this government reforms the police) in contexts of widespread corruption. The context dictates whether or not police autonomy from political factors is sufficient.
Social scientists often construct governance as a continuum, on various dimensions, (Fukuyama, 2014; North, Wallis, and Weingast, 2009; Rothstein and Teorell, 2008; Weber, 1978), with such extremes as ethical universalism (just and equal distribution of public resources) as opposed to particularism (privileges for certain individuals or groups; Mungiu-Pippidi, 2006, 2015). Countries exist at different places along such a continuum and will require commensurately different tools and strategies to address the issues of high-level corruption.
Despite continued international attention to anti-corruption interventions, world governance indicators show there has been little change during the 10 years for indicators of corruption control (Mungi-Pippidi, 2022; The World Bank, n.d.) While one can debate the validity of governance indicators to track precisely trends over time and significant shifts in corruption levels, they still serve to suggest that corruption globally remains a substantial problem to be addressed.
Several assessment tools exist to judge a country’s level of corruption or good governance performance (McDevitt, 2016). These include aggregate indices, expert country assessments, public opinion surveys, business surveys, and company assessments. The following discussion addresses the strengths and limitations of such tools.
Various organizations have developed indices to measure the level of perceived corruption, or good governance in a country, using various indicators and prioritizing different capacities. These can be globally focused, such as the Worldwide Governance Indicators by the World Bank (n.d.), or regionally focused, such as the Ibrahim Index of African Governance by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation (Ibrahim, 2020). Indices serve as a source of comparative information and insight into trends over years. Some indices, however, lack transparency, or do not provide concrete measurements of corruption or distinguish between different types. They also may be challenging to use to assess the impacts of short-term reforms because the indicators are more macro level and take longer to see changes.
In addition to the various indices, there are also expert country assessments by several organizations and foundations that focus on the progress countries seek to make. They look for elements such as how country policies
support sustainable growth and poverty reduction (Independent Evaluation Group, 2010), whether countries are managing social change towards democracy or market economies (BTI, 2022), or how governments are targeting and progressing toward achieving the sustainable development goals related to governance and policy (SGI, 2021). Country assessments can provide a mix of quantitative and qualitative data, and demonstrate linkages between policies and budgets, with some undergoing thorough peer review to seek an unbiased product. Some also offer interactive datasets that can be examined more granularly to see survey responses by country with gender and socioeconomic breakdowns. An example is the Open Government Index through the World Justice Project. This index also ensures the findings reflect conditions experienced by the population through the inclusion of both expert and household surveys (The World Justice Project, 2015). However, the limitations of many of these assessments include challenges with transparency and comparisons over time because of the sensitive or secretive nature of the data. Changing indicators and the addition of new countries further complicate their interpretation. The assessments can be limited in their scope, and may only focus on certain urban areas within a country, or measure the legal framework, but not the implementation, so the results are not always fully representative (McDevitt, 2016).
Another set of tools includes public opinion surveys, conducted by various organizations seeking to help scientists, scholars, and policymakers compare the quality of governance across countries. The surveys also help readers to understand the values and motivations of people worldwide that link cultural factors with economic development, or to understand the political climate in a country better. These surveys are useful because they provide large sources of data on the public’s views of corruption, and can also cut across a range of issues including politics, society, religion, work, and family. However, some surveys are more narrow in their scope and limit the responses to one type of corruption (e.g., bribery), such as the Global Corruption Barometer (Transparency International, 2015), or only certain policy areas such as education, health care, or law enforcement—like the Pan-European Survey on Quality of Government and Corruption (Charron, 2015).
Similarly, business surveys are conducted by organizations such as the World Bank and World Economic Forum. These surveys capture business leaders’ opinions about their country’s government as well as objective measures of business regulations for firms, and the steps needed to start and run a functioning business. Relative to public and expert opinion surveys, these data provide a different perspective: a picture of what it is like to do business in a country, and what regulatory hurdles exist that may need to be reformed to increase productivity and freedom from extortion. However,
there are some limitations, as the data collected often refer to businesses in the largest city, or focus on certain types of transactions or sectors.
Lastly, there are also company assessments, such as Transparency in Corporate Reporting (Kowalszyk-Hoyer et al., 2014) and the Defense Companies Anti-Corruption Index (Transparency International, 2015)—both maintained by Transparency International. These assessments focus more on the transparency of companies, their ethics, and their anti-corruption programs or financial disclosures. Both have many opportunities for feedback and communication directly with the business leaders, resulting in improved levels of data quality. However, because most of the information assessed is publicly available, some details that could inform the integrity of the programs may be missed (McDevitt, 2016).
In sum, several tools exist for characterizing and comparing a country’s state of corruption. These tools can be useful for an initial desk review to get a sense of historical, political, and/or economic context in particular countries (see Box 1-3 for a simple exercise using the Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer to identify countries where engaging police in anti-corruption efforts may be more productive [Ferreira and
Mungiu-Pippidi, 2022]). Even so, for any agency, institution, or donor seeking to develop an anti-corruption intervention, a deeper assessment will be necessary. That depth is required to uncover the relevant details of circumstances, issues, stakeholders, opportunity levers, and other factors particular to specific communities and countries.
Models of Anti-corruption Institutions
The many governmental and non-governmental anti-corruption institutions, operating both within countries and cooperatively at the international level, have various functions, models, and modes of operation. Generally, institutional work focuses on modernizing and coordinating efforts to curb illicit finance, hold corrupt actors accountable, build multilateral anti-corruption architecture, and improve diplomatic engagement and foreign assistance resources to advance goals (The White House, 2021; see also Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, 2015). The advice within international anti-corruption literature varies on whether it is better to establish a new agency with a targeted anti-corruption mandate, or to have efforts directed toward strengthening preexisting institutions within a country’s integrity infrastructure (OECD, 2013; see also Bajpai and Myers, 2020). Expectations, needs, existing legal structures, and available resources may dictate the most suitable model.
Institutions with a role in preventing corruption have been broken down into three main categories: anti-corruption coordinating councils, dedicated corruption prevention bodies, and public institutions (OECD, 2013).
Anti-corruption coordinating councils are typically created to spearhead anti-corruption reforms within a country and to implement and monitor national anti-corruption strategies, often for a certain period or to achieve a specific goal. Membership on these councils (commissions or committees) tend to include responsible government agencies, representatives from executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, and can involve membership from civil society groups and actors. Examples include the Anti-Corruption Council in Georgia supported by the Secretariat in the Ministry of Justice; the Commission on Combating Corruption in Azerbaijan; the Inter-ministerial Working Group in Albania and its secretariat within the Cabinet of Ministers. High-level anti-corruption councils also exist in Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Russia (OECD, 2013).
Dedicated corruption prevention bodies are created to explicitly prevent corruption, but are permanent and hold broad mandates. These bodies are in charge of coordinating anti-corruption strategies but may also have other functions such as the assessment of corruption risk and integrity plans for public institutions, anti-corruption awareness and education, and conflict of interest prevention (Bajpai and Myers, 2020). Organizations
following this model include Slovenia’s Commission for the Prevention of Corruption; Montenegro’s Directorate for Anti-Corruption Initiative; Serbia’s Anti-Corruption Agency; and France’s Central Service for the Prevention of Corruption (OECD, 2013).
Public institutions play an important role in anti-corruption efforts but often are not specifically established to combat corruption. Examples of these groups include Turkey’s Council of Ethics for the Public Service, the Department of Public Administration and Public Service within the Ministry of Finance in Estonia, or Austria’s Federal Chancellery (OECD, 2013). A country’s judiciary is also an important public institution for promoting and enforcing anti-corruption (Christelis and Petter, 2004).
A popular model of institutional organization for anti-corruption work consists of a single-agency approach with three central purposes: investigation, prevention, and public outreach and education (OECD, 2013). In many instances, prosecution is a separate function, which preserves systemic checks and balances. The Hong Kong Independent Commission against Corruption and the Singapore Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau are often cited as examples of this form of organization, and they have inspired similar agencies elsewhere, including: the Independent Commission against Corruption in New South Wales, Australia; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime in Botswana; the Special Investigation Service in Lithuania; the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau in Latvia; the Central Anti-corruption Bureau in Poland; and the Inspector General of Government in Uganda (OECD, 2013). While the number of single-agency anti-corruption organizations has grown, the World Bank reports that experiences from countries show that these agencies have fallen short of achieving organizational standards established by the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and have been unable to achieve mandates or have a significant impact on trends, types, and levels of corruption within their jurisdictions (Bajpai and Myers, 2020).
Working through existing criminal justice institutions is also a common model for anti-corruption work, as these bodies can already accommodate various investigatory, preventative, and research needs. While this work is generally structured across criminal justice agencies, this model can also combine dedicated anti-corruption detection, investigation, and prosecution into one body. This criminal justice model is perhaps the most common approach followed in OECD countries, and it allows for elements of prevention, coordination, and research to be carried out by these institutions as needed. This model can be seen in Norway’s National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime; Belgium’s Central Office for the Repression of Corruption; Spain’s Special Prosecutor’s Office against Corruption and Organised Crime; Croatia’s Office for the Prevention and Suppression of Corruption and Organised
Crime; and Malta’s Permanent Commission against Corruption (OECD, 2013). This model can also be used to classify internal investigative bodies dedicated to detecting and investigating corruption within law enforcement, such as Germany’s Department of Internal Investigations; Albania’s Internal Control Service of the national police, and the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police/Anti-corruption Command (OECD, 2013).
Anti-corruption work typically involves multiple jurisdictional elements, including several parties and targets. Successful efforts hinge not only on the focused and dedicated work of individuals but often on the work of multiple levels of government and even international organizations (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, 2015). Adequate investigatory resources, including personnel, are critical for success. Cases involving high-level corruption often come with additional management concerns, including transnational elements.
Regional and international networks of anti-corruption authorities have been established, with the goal of capacity building, legal harmonization, and cross-border cooperation in investigations and asset recovery. Groups such as the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions, the Southern African Forum against Corruption, the Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies, the Council of Europe’s Network of Corruption Prevention Authorities, and the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities make up just a handful of groups involved in capacity building and cross-border cooperation for investigations and asset recovery (Schütte, 2020). These groups may be important for facilitating information exchange, both formally and informally. Given the lack of comparative analysis into these networks, this is an area ripe for study, considering the wide growth of international and regional efforts in the last 20 years.
IMPROVING THE FLOW OF INFORMATION
Police role in anti-corruption efforts can be seen as helping to gather and disseminate legal intelligence (Black, 1973) on corruption to other actors in the anti-corruption ecosystem. This intelligence might include, for example, specific corruption transactions, or the laundering of proceeds of corruption. Across many, if not all, kinds of legal intelligence, police are in an optimal position to encounter critical facts. In many countries today, the police are a pervasive feature of social life; they have a geographical jurisdiction often unmatched by other institutions (Ericson and Haggerty, 1997). This places them in a unique position to procure information on corruption and corruption-related transactions.
As in the performance of their order-maintenance duties in public places, the police can work with a large and ongoing flow of information
from the public. That flow of information, moreover, may be enhanced by the public viewing their police as legitimate. Police legitimacy refers to public recognition of police authority, decisions, and actions as rightful. Research on what motivates citizens to cooperate with the police suggests that focusing on legitimacy as a strategy may enhance this proposed anticorruption role for the police department. This requires officers to act lawfully and fairly and to demonstrate effectiveness in carrying out their responsibilities (see the committee’s fourth report on police legitimacy, NASEM, 2022a).
Research evidence on what motivates citizens to supply information to the police voluntarily on suspected corruption is rare.2 This is partly because the police tend not to view corruption control as part of their duties, hence official crime statistics are often silent on corruption cases. Further, research points to public perceptions of unlawful police behavior inhibiting people’s willingness to report corruption to the police (NASEM 2022a; Tankebe, 2019). However, these findings are only suggestive, as this literature is not particularly deep at this time.
It is very much an open question regarding their applicability to corruption reporting. There is a clear need to build evidence on what motivates people to supply information specifically to the police to prompt and support anti-corruption investigations. Such a research agenda should also focus on developing the capacity of the police to process and disseminate corruption information to their anti-corruption partners.
Evidence from public cooperation with the police in general crime prevention suggests mechanisms for improving cooperation with the police. In a meta-analysis of the evidence, Walters and Bolger (2019, p. 95) reported that “the majority of research supports the notion that perceptions of fair treatment by the police predict beliefs about their legitimacy . . . and beliefs about police legitimacy predict future reporting of crime to the police.” Analyzing data from a survey of victims of crime in Australia, Murphy and Barkworth (2014) found that people said they would report future victimization to the police if they believed the police were procedurally just—that is, listened to them, treated them with respect, and showed care for their wellbeing—and effective. Tankebe (2013) reported similar findings in a study of residents in London (UK). These are important findings in the context of cooperation with police against corruption, given that direct victims of corruption (such as extortion) do not often report their victimization.
2 One recent study in Ghana has investigated the circumstances associated with people’s decision to cooperate with the police to fight corruption but is limited to a sample of final year university students (Tankebe, 2019). Students were asked to complete a survey that measured their willingness to report corruption to the police. The study also measured various motivations hypothesized to explain people’s reporting decisions.
Many police units have been designed to play a key role in processing citizen complaints and conducting investigations, often dealing with sensitive information and documents, and guaranteeing the protection of reporting parties (e.g., whistleblowers). Police reforms at the community level can have an impact on high-level corruption because they may help to increase police legitimacy and enhance police autonomy. In theory, when citizens and social institutions trust the police to process their complaints in ways that will result in effective investigations, they will feel more encouraged to report corruption. Reporting by citizens assumes their knowledge of what constitutes corruption transactions, which may not necessarily be the case. This speaks to the need for public outreach to raise awareness of corrupt behaviors and engagement of community groups in the fight against high-level corruption.
In some countries, police can expand their capacity to gather information by working with third parties (e.g., health and building inspectors, property owners, housing agencies, parents, and business owners) who take on some responsibility for preventing or reducing crime (Buerger and Mazerolle, 1998). A third party is an entity operating within a legal framework that provides the party with legal powers not directly accessible to the police. A third party can take the form of an individual (e.g., a property owner), an organization (e.g., the American Bar Association), a business (e.g., a bar), regulatory bodies (e.g., the Department of Education), or a group of agencies collaborating (Mazerolle, Eggins, and Higginson, 2016; see Green, 1996). Legal levers provide them with certain powers that allow for crime control or crime prevention, such as licensing (e.g., alcohol, firearms), mandatory reporting (e.g., child abuse, chemical sales), behavioral controls (e.g., domestic violence injunctions, truancy regulations), codified regulatory orders (e.g., building, fire, health and safety codes), and property controls (e.g., drug nuisance abatement). Police are central to developing partnerships with third parties, and must be actively engaged with these groups to make use of their crime control or prevention capacities (Mazerolle, Eggins, and Higginson, 2016).
Third-party partnerships grew out of a global trend of changes in governance and regulation (Mazerolle, Eggins, and Higginson, 2016; see also Mazerolle and Ransley, 2005) alongside the community policing movement of the 1980s and 1990s (Buerger and Mazerolle, 1998). A study of the effect of third parties on organized crime (or the yakuza) supports the conclusion that they can act as an effective countermeasure against organized crime, with the number of those involved in organized crime dropping by approximately 30 percent during the five years of the study (Hoshino and Kamada, 2021). While there are limited program evaluations, third party policing interventions on crime and disorder have been assessed through randomized control trials and quasi-experimental designs.
These assessments “suggests that third party policing generates statistically significant crime- and disorder-reduction effects” over the short-term, but that there is little evidence on long-term impacts or jurisdictional outcomes (NASEM, 2018, p. 310).
While there remains a need to better understand what strategies improve the flow of information to domestic law enforcement officers, the concept of improving flow of information to police can be amplified through participation in international collaborative anti-corruption efforts. Some organizations are already working to create a global law enforcement network for sharing information among government actors, including police, prosecutors, and other justice-involved practitioners. The goal of these collaborations is to leverage globalization and digitalization to support countries in their anti-corruption investigations and prosecutions. These organizations not only share information from across the globe with involved stakeholders, but they also allow members to reach out for assistance from experts to support anti-corruption projects.
ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT
Examining a complex and multifaceted phenomenon with a limited research base to inform police practices, the committee sought to provide practical guidance by drawing lessons learned from cases where interventions to combat corruption appear to have been successful. Chapter 2 summarizes a set of case studies and anti-corruption interventions focused on prosecuting high-level targets and addressing systemic corruption. These case studies highlight that multiple approaches in different countries have succeeded in achieving measurable reductions in corruption. In Chapter 3, the committee reflects on the information it considered to provide recommendations on investing in research resources and analyses to generate detailed knowledge of how police have succeeded (and failed) in combatting high-level corruption. Appendix A provides biographical sketches of committee members and study staff.