...One of my 7 themes as a writer.
Yes, sadly it's a pervasive aspect of human nature. Almost all of my professional life has been on the front line with corruption, whether it be investigating it or witnessing it.
And when I use the term "corruption", I'm using it in its traditional sense: using one's position and/or power to gain a personal benefit, or bestow a benefit on someone else.
I'm not interested in the technically-defined types of corruption, whether it be "noble cause" misconduct (breaking the rules to get the right result), or police getting half price hamburgers, or administrative paperwork being "massaged" to comply with unrealistic or inflexible rules. I remember well this last type: as detectives, we often had to work overtime without getting paid for it, as there was insufficient budget, but we still insisted on locking up crooks. Old-fashioned, I know! So every now and then, if Friday afternoon was looking empty, the boss would tell us to go for lunch at the pub and not bother coming back. In other words, the afternoon off in lieu of all the unpaid overtime. Of course, our duty journals needed to reflect that we worked our shift until 4 p.m. And so they did. These days, times having changed, those technically inaccurate journal times would be regarded as "police corruption". Meanwhile, you should see all the real shit that goes on...
I'm going to be doing a series of blogs detailing some of the stellar examples of corruption I've seen over the years. I won't be naming anyone, so don't expect any scoops. But, in line with my fiction writing serving to showcase what goes on in our society, these blogs are going to relate true tales of corruption, again to share with you some of what really goes on behind those respectable façades.
One of the most interesting aspects of this for me is that our society still hangs on to the image of corruption as being the bags of cash changing hands - my blog image attests to this! And, sure, bribery is still huge business. But so much of corruption in government and its agencies actually relates to corrupt decision-making, whether it be to cover up scandals, appoint favoured mates to jobs, or to keep political masters happy.
And given all the years I worked as a detective, you might thing my best examples would come from what I saw going on in the squads. No, is the short answer. I saw a few things over the years I wasn't very impressed with, but on the whole I found most of my fellow detectives to be honest. Short-cuts and administrative paperwork issues aside, those men and women did their work for their community, and not to serve their own greed and self-interest.
No, and this may be surprising, the most endemically corrupt organisational culture I have ever come across was that at the NSW Department of Community Services, where I was unfortunate enough to spend 12 months of my working life. And it certainly wasn't your bribery style of corruption. Rather, it was the routine covering up of matters and the falsification of paperwork to perpetuate the lies. Anyway, my next blog will dish up the details of that lovely organisation.
Bringing you hard-boiled and noir tales of crime and corruption. And various related opinions!