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Professional Reporting and Police Culture

Abstract In this chapter I discuss the matter of the morality and rationality of professional reporting: police reporting on the corrupt behaviour of their fellow officers. Historically, the so-called ‘blue wall of silence’ has been a barrier to such reporting and, therefore, to combating corruption in police services. I argue that since most police officers are not themselves corrupt and believe that they morally ought to report or provide evidence in relation to their corrupt colleagues, they will do so if conditions are created under which it will be rational for them to do so. These conditions include the following ones: A reasonable number, and a high rate, of convictions/terminations of corrupt police officers as a result of a well-resourced, high quality, internal investigations department focused only on criminal and serious disciplinary matters, and operating in the context of: (i) the normalization of the role of internal investigator; and (ii) the felt duty on the part of most police to report/provide intelligence/evidence regarding criminal/corrupt colleagues in the knowledge that if they do: (a) the persons in question are likely to be convicted/terminated; and (b) they themselves will suffer no harm or adverse career consequences.

Having discussed integrity systems for police organizations in general terms in Chap. 4, I turn now to an historically important challenge that faces police organizations, namely, professional reporting. Note that there is a distinction between professional reporting and whistleblowing. Professional reporting is internal disclosure of corruption or other misconduct within an organisation whereas whistleblowing is external disclosure to the media or other agency which will communicate the disclosure to the public at large. This distinction between internal and external disclosure can cause confusion, particularly in public sector institutions. When an individual raises his or her concerns with another public sector body—such as the Auditor-General or Ombudsman—in one sense the complaint has gone beyond being an internal management matter. However, if we conceive the agency to whom the individual belongs and the external public sector agency to whom the complaint has been referred as constituting parts of the same public sector organizational entity, then the individual is not engaged in whistleblowing. Specifically, the individual has © The Author(s) 2016

S. Miller, Corruption and Anti-Corruption in Policing—Philosophical

and Ethical Issues, SpringerBriefs in Ethics, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-46991-1_5

not ‘made public’ the alleged corrupt activity. Accordingly, police who disclose corruption to external police oversight bodies are engaged in professional reporting and not necessarily whistleblowing. My concern here is only with professional reporting by police officers of corruption perpetrated by other police officers.

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