U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.


Which are feasible, systemic AC-measures in the context of police reform? What are typical entry points to reduce susceptibility to corruption? Are there any practical guides or checklists? Can measures or entry points be differentiated after types of police: traffic police, border police, special police forces, etc. Are there any lessons learned from international donors’ experiences?


Our agency is working on a paper to define and sharpen the intervention areas related to corruption and police reform in order to develop guidelines for projects and programmes in this area.


1. Types of police corruption
2. Experience with anti-corruption and police reform
3. References


Addressing police corruption is essential to maintain public order and the rule of law, to support the legitimacy of the state and to maintain or restore public trust in democratic processes and institutions. Since the considerable powers entrusted to law enforcement officers can be easily manipulated for private gain or political purposes, there are many linkages between police corruption and human right abuses that can further undermine internal security and abet abuses of civil and political rights. Empirical evidence suggests that strengthening the accountability of law enforcement institutions is of critical importance to effectively combat corruption and break the circle of impunity, especially in countries affected by high levels of organised crime (Chêne, 2009).

Police corruption manifests itself in a variety of ways, ranging from petty and bureaucratic corruption to the criminal infiltration of the state, state capture and other forms of political corruption, all of which require different types of anti-corruption interventions. Experience of police reform from countries such as South Africa or Mexico suggests that for anti-corruption strategies to be successful and comprehensive they need to be embedded in the broader framework of democratic institution-building that promotes a human rights-based approach to policing services. Such strategies usually integrate preventative approaches aimed at decreasing incentives and opportunities for corruption with punitive approaches that increase the risks and cost of engaging in corrupt practices. The main focus is typically on issues of enforcement, institutional change as well as public education and participation.

Within this framework, the concept of democratic policing is gradually emerging as a promising approach. It includes interventions such as community-based policing, crime prevention and victim empowerment strategies geared towards restoring and strengthening trust between civilian and the police, gaining community support and creating a police service that is responsive to the needs of both the citizenry and democratic institutions.


Marie Chêne, Transparency International, [email protected]


Dieter Zinnbauer, Ph.D., Transparency International, [email protected]




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