Noble Cause Corruption


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When we think of police corruption financial gain typically comes to mind because the police are exposed to great temptations in their everyday duty such as recovery of stolen or lost property, inducements or gratuities from restaurateurs and shopkeepers etc. The prevention of this form of corruption has been to a degree successful due to reforms, organisational policies and the selection procedures for recruiting potential officers. These have brought an unintended occurrence argued by Crank & Caldero in their book “Police Ethics – The Corruption of the Noble Cause” in that police officers are now recruited for their commitment to the noble cause due to their values which leaves them vulnerable to the theory of noble cause corruption.

Definition of Noble Cause Corruption - Noble cause corruption in policing is defined as "corruption committed in the name of good ends, corruption that happens when police officers care too much about their work. It is corruption committed in order to get the bad guys off the streets…the corruption of police power, when officers do bad things because they believe that the outcomes will be good." (Crank & Caldero) Examples of noble cause corruption are, planting or fabricating evidence, lying on reports or in court, and generally abusing police authority to make a charge stick.

Police officers tend to see bending of the rules for the greater good as acceptable rather than defined as misconduct or as corruption. They can rationalize such behavior as part of the job they were paid to do and are what the public wants. It is seen by some in a utilitarian sense, to get the criminals off the streets, regardless of the means employed.

Arrogance and weak supervision contribute to the degree of noble cause corruption found in any police organisation or unit. Do you measure success in your organisation? A team of well motivated officers with high arrest and detection rates may on the face of it look good and therefore bring credit to the supervisor or manager of that team but are there any contributing factors? A vigilant supervisor or manager will look further into that success. You may find noble cause corruption to be a consequence of success.

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