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Corporate Priorities Considered

Given scarce resources, priority must be given to some investigations over others. Such priorities ought to be determined by a variety of criteria, including the seriousness of the complaint made and the likelihood that it will be resolved if investigated. But there are also corporate priorities. A particular kind of complaint might occur so frequently that it indicates that the associated form of misconduct is highly prevalent, and therefore in special need of attention at a particular time (for example, the sexual harassment of female police officers). Or there might be a need to focus more on crime reduction (for example, when police engage in drug dealing) rather than customer satisfaction (for example, police insensitivity to the victims of crime). Surveys and interrogation of complaints databases and the like can help to identify areas of concern and assist in the process of prioritization.

In relation to any corporate priority there will be a number of strategies in place— for example, strategies to reduce a particular form of misconduct. Assume that it is a corporate priority to reduce drug dealing among police officers. A large number of separate anonymous complaints that particular officers are engaged in drug dealing might trigger an investigation of the complaints made against those officers, notwithstanding the fact that any single anonymous complaint taken on its own might not warrant further investigation.

An important corporate priority is organizational reputation. The question should be asked: to what extent is organizational reputation given reasonable, but not overriding, weight? Organizational reputation should be understood primarily in terms of public confidence in the willingness and capacity of the organization to pursue its public task, rather than simply the individual reputations of those in positions of authority. On occasion, undue pressure has been placed on internal investigators to resolve cases speedily or even to ‘get a scalp’ to assuage public concern in relation to police corruption. This can lead to injustices, as happened in the NSW police internal affairs investigation of Inspector Harry Blackburn (Miller et al. 2006).

In relation to the realization of corporate priorities, including corruption reduction, there are a range of performance indicators that should be assessed, such as process and case audits, and the number and ratio of complaints leading to prosecutions.

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