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What Can Corruption and Anti-Corruption Theory Tell us About the Problems Facing Policing in Remote Indigenous Communities?

NCJ Number
Kirsten Storry
Date Published
21 pages
This paper examines whether corruption and anti-corruption theory as applied to policing are useful in analyzing and addressing the problems that face policing in remote indigenous communities in Australia.
The paper argues that care must be exercised in focusing on the anti-corruption literature as the source of answers in analyzing and attempting to solve problems of substandard policing in remote indigenous communities of Australia. The paper first examines the meaning of “corruption“ in the policing context, identifying a gap between the “modern conception“ in the literature and notions of corruption and misconduct in State and Territory legislation in Australia. The problems of both “over-policing” and “under-policing” are analyzed for remote indigenous communities, with attention to whether these issues pertain to concepts of police “corruption.“ Both over-policing and under-policing involve the police use of discretion in terms of when and how various laws in the code are to be enforced. Corruption occurs when the police consciously enforce some laws against particular people in the community but not others. Under-policing involves corruption when the police consciously fail to act in protecting some members of the community while serving the public safety interests of others. Anticorruption theory can serve the interests of indigenous residents of remote communities by emphasizing police integrity in providing the same services to indigenous people in remote communities as are provided to majority constituents in suburban and urban areas. Specific reform efforts recommended for achieving this include controlling the exercise of police discretion by setting professional standards, introducing codes of practice, and requiring transparent recordkeeping. A second type of reform needed involves recruitment and training strategies that promote a police culture of service to the community regardless of the characteristics of the residents and tailored to their specific public-safety needs. 39 references