President's Column - The insidious creep of corruption

NZPA Police News | Fri April 2nd, 2010

“Favours accepted, coupled with inappropriate associations, a belief you are worth more than you are getting and that no one seems to care about a particular problem, and you have the ingredients for corruption.”

Crime is about opportunity. When I was a young beat cop in Wellington in the 1970s, there were very few assaults or stand-overs in Courtenay Place because there were no bars or people present after 10 p.m. So there was a very low likelihood of either happening.

Today, numerous pubs and throngs of people until the wee small hours mean there are plenty of both.

Another major change to the national crime scene since then is the arrival of well-entrenched and well-established organised crime groups.

Their presence opens up the opportunity for another type of crime that didn’t really exist in New Zealand in the 1970s and before, and that’s corruption.

We have groups operating in New Zealand now for whom corruption of public officials is a craft honed over centuries, particularly Asian gangs, and other more contemporary groups who are learning the art through exposure and practice.

It’s subtle. No one ever woke up one day and decided he or she would be a crooked official.

It’s far more incremental than that and it’s more like waking up and realising that you are already compromised.

Favours accepted, coupled with inappropriate associations, a belief you are worth more than you are getting and that no one seems to care about a particular problem, and you have the ingredients for corruption.

It is naïve to think that with the exponential growth of organised crime in New Zealand on the back of the P epidemic that attempts will not be made to compromise Police staff and other law enforcement officials, particularly Customs and Corrections officers.

We have not yet had a major corruption case in Police and we fervently hope we won’t.

Someone reading this might realise they are in danger of or may even have already been compromised.

If that is the case, my strong advice is to get out of your situation now.

It may mean telling all to your boss and being prepared to face some consequences.

It’s better though than continuing on and not only bringing your own world down in a resounding crash, but also that of your family and all of your Police colleagues.

I may be unduly concerned about something that may never happen but, as I would be naïve to think that turning Courtenay Place into party central would have no impact on offending, I would be equally unworldly to believe the entrenchment of organised crime would not likewise create an environment where corruption could take hold. I hope I’m wrong.

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