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UK failing to address corruption—study

/ 09:31 AM June 15, 2011

A general view of houses in Stanley, England, Tuesday, June 14, 2011. UK House prices look set to continue falling as the hoped-for spring bounce in the property market failed to materialise, research indicated Tuesday. The extended bank holiday weekends in April and early May hit activity levels, while concerns about the economy and the ongoing problems in the mortgage market also affected the number of people looking to move home, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

LONDON— Corruption is a much larger problem in Britain than acknowledged and key institutions are refusing to confront the problem, a global watchdog warned Wednesday.

Transparency International U.K. called the findings of its two-year study into corruption in the U.K. a “corruption health-check” for the country — with a diagnosis of “growing threat, inadequate response.”

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The group said its research found that corruption is flourishing in some parts of the U.K. and there is “disturbing evidence” of denial in policy responses to the issue.

“There is complacency and a lack of knowledge of the extent of corruption in key sectors and institutions,” according to the study, which examined 23 sectors. “For every institution or agency that recognizes the problem of corruption and makes an effective effort to tackle it, there is another, facing the same degree of corruption risk, that ignores it.

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The report noted that some sectors should be commended for tackling corruption, but that political parties, prisons, sports and Parliament are a “major issue of concern.”

Transparency International confessed it was difficult to measure the prevalence of corruption in the U.K. because official data and statistics often categorize offenses under more general headings, such as fraud.

In addition, the group noted that there are at least 12 different agencies or government departments with partial responsibility for anti-corruption activities, plus more than 40 police forces — leading to patchy and uncoordinated responses.

“The policy response is incoherent and uncoordinated,” the report said. “This inadequate response has in certain areas created a culture of impunity.”

For those reasons, corruption often goes unrecognized or unreported — which Transparency International said makes its research preliminary. The group said its findings could just be “the tip of an iceberg” and called for more research into corruption and a coherent approach to tackling the issue.

On the bright side, the reports finds that the government should harness strong public antipathy toward corruption to engage citizens in the fight against corruption.

Chandrashekhar Krishnan, executive director of Transparency International U.K., he hopes the report and its recommendations will serve as “a wake-up call to society” and that the U.K. will seize the opportunity to adopt robust and coordinated policies to tackle corruption.

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A spokesman for Ministry of Justice said the government has been working hard to tackle corruption both at home and abroad.

“Bribery and corruption are extremely serious offenses which the government believes should be punished with the full force of the law,” said the spokesman, who did not give his name in keeping with departmental protocol. “We will continue to work to increase transparency and accountability and to stamp out corruption.”

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TAGS: corruption, Transparency International U.K, United Kingdom
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