One in 20 Britons reports bribing public officials

9 Jul

From today’s I newspaper (page 5)

Creeping levels of corruption in Britain have resulted in a worrying increase in the bribery of public officials, according to a major new report released today.

One in 20 Britons claim to have paid a bribe in the past year to access public services ranging from health and education to justic.  The figure, while well below the global average of more than one in four, is a five-fold increase on the one in 100 who paid bribes in 2010.

It is part of a growing problem, with two-thirds of Britons stating levels of corruption in Britain have increased in the past two years.  The findings are from Transparency International’s global corruption barometer, involving 114,000 people in 107 countries.  It reveals a crisis of trust in Britain’s political system, with 90 per cent of Britons believing the country to be run by “a few big entities acting in their own best interests”.

A government spokesperson said: “Transparency is an essential aspect of open government, but robust accountability mechanisms and strong enforcement of anti-corruption legislation are also necessary”.

and from Transparency International’s website (link above):

The results show a crisis of trust in the political system:

  • Of the people surveyed, 67 per cent view political parties as being affected by corruption, and 55 per cent believe that the British parliament has a corruption problem.
  • 90 per cent believe that the UK Government is run by a few big entities acting in their own interest.
    • Of the 91 per cent who would be willing to report corruption, 40 per cent would want to make that report to a government hotline – which currently does not exist.
    • 62 per cent think the Government’s actions are ineffective in tackling corruption
    • Bribery
    • 5 per cent of UK respondents have paid a bribe in the last 12 months – a jump since Transparency International’s 2010 survey, when only 1 per cent reported as such.The good news is that 68 percent believe that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption, and 91 per cent would be willing to take action.
    • What needs to change?Despite several warning signals over the past five years, the UK has been complacent about corruption. The result is now beginning to show, and some recent actions, like the abolition of the Audit Commission, are likely to make the situation worse.

      We need the Government to accept there is a problem in the UK rather than claiming it is only a problem overseas. This means having someone specifically in charge of tackling corruption; undertaking a national corruption risk assessment; drawing up a national action plan; and making sure that all areas of the public sector have in place the kind of anti-corruption procedures that the government expects of the private sector. People have been surprised that the first prosecutions under the 2010 Bribery Act were for offences in the UK – our survey suggests it is not such a surprise, but the Government has not been paying sufficient attention to this disturbing trend.

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