The surprising case of police bribery reduction in South Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Bristol
  • University of South Africa

Abstract

The paper examines why there was a reduction of almost 15% in police bribery in Limpopo province, South Africa between 2011 and 2015, compared to only a 4% reduction the country overall. Drawing on statistical analysis and in-depth qualitative fieldwork, the research shows that the reduction occurred during an unprecedented anticorruption intervention in the province that did not directly tackle police bribery. Despite this, the intervention’s high visibility, along with uncertainty among the police of its mandate, was likely to have made police less willing to engage in bribery during this period. While police sector-specific characteristics (high degree of discretion, peer solidarity and contact with criminals) make fighting entrenched corruption particularly difficult, the research shows how a disruptive event can counteract these factors and how this can happen more quickly than previously anticipated. For long-term impact, however, disruption strategies likely need to be driven by strong leadership and structural changes that will continually disrupt corruption patterns.

Bibliographic note

This is the revised version submitted to the editors & will be updated with a final version on approval.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-606
Number of pages20
JournalCrime, Law and Social Change
Volume72
Issue number5
Early online date17 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Keywords

  • Corruption, bribery, police, South Africa, governance