Recently there has been discussion of whether or not officer corruption led to a brutal, double murder. Nottinghamshire police was tracking a gang led by Colin Gunn for a year when Joan and John Stirland were shot and killed. The Stirland's son had shot one of Gunn's friends and Gunn was looking for revenge. Initially the Stirlands were shot at outside their Nottinghamshire home when they decided to flee to Lincolnshire, where they were tracked down and killed in August 2004.
Former employees of Nottinghamshire Police Department provided statements indicating that they wanted to keep information about tracking Gunn's gang private, even from other colleagues, so they proceeded to meet in a non-police affiliated place and discuss their hidden intelligence operation. An officer stated that "there were suspicions within the force officers were leaking information to criminals," as for "we were very concerned about corruption, we did not want to put intelligence on to an open system that might get into the hands of the crime group and alert them to the fact we existed." (BBC, 2010) None of the officers on the case spoke with or interacted with other officers in the force, which led to an overall disappearance of the team. When the team had information in 2002 that Gunn had a caravan on the East coast, it is questionable whether someone warned the Stirlands not to go there.
Currently there is a jury trial being held, questioning whether the police failed to protect the couple as well as they should have and if police corruption contributed to Mr. and Mrs. Stirland's death. Some other officers believe that more could have been done to protect the couple.
The underlying issue here is whether or not there was corruption in the police force. How did the team that was tracking the gang not know where the gang was headed? Was information leaked?
It seems very suspicious that a police team organized primarily to track one particular gang had no idea that they were on their way to kill the Stirland's. Gunn's gang may have found out, or done tracking of their own, to locate the Stirland's, but the police knew where the Stirland's were located and it seems as if no one went to warn them about Gunn being in the area. The team was so worried about the corruption of other officers in the police force, outside of their team, that they didn't question the corruption of the officers within their team. Someone was not doing their job as well as they could have been. If the team failed to do their job, it's best they speak up and take responsibility for their actions. Either way, a couple ended up dead.
Police corruption has been around since the beginning of time. Police will sell information to criminals, even of cases that they are working on. Police, at times, also help criminals plan their crime spree so that they would presumably get a way with it. There is no absolute evidence at this time that directly points at police corruption but the odds are looking good.
BBC NEWS. Nottinghamshire police feared 'corrupt' officers. BBC NEWS. February 15, 2010.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Corruption has been around since the beginning of policing. "Police corruption is the abuse of police authority for personal gain. Corruption may involve profit or another type of material benefit gained illegally as a consequence of the officer's authority. Typical forms of corruption include bribery, extortion, receiving or fencing stolen goods, and selling drugs." (Law Library, 2010) Although corruption is always happening, both, in and outside the walls of government agencies, it may go unnoticed for quite some time. When a department is caught with corrupt members the department and that individual are looked down upon.
There are several types of corruption within the department. There is favoritism when it comes to hiring and promotions, where the best candidate is not always chosen over the more popular candidate. In some extreme cases promotions are granted to those who offer the largest monetary incentive. During internal investigations some individuals are given more leeway than others when they committed a more serious offense.
A common source of corruption stems from within the department but is brought into the community. A well known form of corruption that is often portrayed in the media comes from officers who steal drugs from the department they work for and sell them back onto the streets in order to make a profit. Some police personnel also will tamper with evidence or mislead investigations to protect the real suspect.
Corruption is still a problem in today's society, and it will continue to be a problem as long as there are corrupt officials who do not appropriately discipline corrupt individuals.
Law Library - American Law and Legal Information. Police Corruption and Misconduct - History, Contemporary Problems, Further Readings. http://law.jrank.org/pages/9248/Police-Corruption-Misconduct.html. August 23, 2003.