Detailed proposals to create a new offence of police corruption were unveiled by the Home Office today (Tuesday 10 June).
It would cover cases in which a police officer acts improperly with a view to obtaining an advantage for themselves or someone else – or causing some form of detriment to someone else.
It would also be used when an officer “fails to act” for a corrupt purpose, for example if they know a suspect did not commit a particular crime but hide that knowledge because they have a relationship with the guilty party.
And it would also apply when an officer threatens to do something, or not do something, for an improper purpose.
The new offence would carry a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment.
Home Secretary Theresa May announced plans for the new offence during her statement to Parliament about the outcome of the Ellison Review.
It would supplement the existing offence of misconduct in public office and is being brought forward as an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.
Honesty and integrity
Policing Minister Damian Green said:
The public expect the police to act at all times with honesty and integrity. That is why this Government is introducing a range of measures to improve the integrity and transparency of the police.
Where police officers fall short of the high standards we expect of them, it is right that the full force of the criminal law is available to punish and deter acts of corruption by police officers.
We believe the best way to do this is to create a new offence of police corruption, solely applicable to police officers, to sit alongside the existing offence of misconduct in public office.
Corrupt behaviour in the police should be deterred and punished so we can maintain their standing in the eyes of the public and underline the important work done by the overwhelming number of officers across the country.
The new offence would apply to all officers of all ranks and special constables in England and Wales, as well as officers of the British Transport Police, Ministry of Defence Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary. It would also apply to those National Crime Agency officers who have the powers and privileges of a constable, including NCA Specials.
The Home Office will ask the Sentencing Council to set guidelines for courts to use in cases involving the new offence to make clear the starting point for sentencing corrupt officers.