WA (Western Australia) Police Force began their chapter in history of Australian Policing in 1829 when few constables were appointed to patrol Perth and Fremantle. The first woman police officer was appointed in 1917 for some specialised services until they were fully incorporated in 1970s (WA Police, 2011).
Today WA Police mans 2.5 million square kilometres which is the largest single jurisdiction (WA Police, 2011). Currently WA Police force is under a lot of scrutiny due to numerous corruption charges against the police officers. The public has a negative perception of police force and they no longer feel secure, neither do they trust the police force to keep them safe.
Issue – Corruption
Probable Causes of Corruption – Different things motivate different people. Some can motivate people to perform beyond expectations and some can lead astray from moral and ethical values.
When dealing with corruption, first question to ask or to clarify is what corruption is. NSW Research (2002) describes corruption anything from gaining materialistically by virtue of position (for eg. getting a special discount at stores) to engaging in ‘direct criminal activities’ (eg. selling drugs). Newburn (1999) believes that there is a thin line between the definition of ‘corrupt’ and ‘non-corrupt’ activities as at the end, it is an ethical problem. For common people, however, bribery generalises corruption.
Different researches and enquiry commissions have come up with different reasons as to why corruption prevails in the police force. We will look at some of the most probable causes which apply to WA Police.
Decision Making – Police officers have considerable decision making powers at their own discretion. This is true for low ranking officers as well as high ranked. The situations can vary when the same laws have to be enforced and this presents opportunities to deviate or be influenced in return of material or other gain.
Low Visibility – As the police officers are spread out in the field, it is very difficult for the superiors to administer them. It is a fairly autonomous job with little scope for direct, let alone micro-management. This occupational characteristic kind of loosens them from departmental bureaucracy, policies and actions. The actions of police officers also are less visible in the eyes of public as the officers normally work in a cordoned crime scene or inside a burgled house. This lack of management and visibility can steer police officers towards corruption.
Internal Solidarity – There is a strong internal bonding and solidarity with in the police department. There are generally informal or unwritten rules with in the department. One of those rules is to not cooperate with any sort of investigations against a fellow officer. Sherman (1978) emphasises that these rules keep corruption activities at a reasonable level. This sense of loyalty with the department facilitates and encourages corruption.
Shared Values – Most...