Condon blames low pay for corruption

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The Independent Online
METROPOLITAN POLICE Commissioner Sir Paul Condon has blamed low pay for tempting police officers into corruption.

Sir Paul's astonishing claim that poor pay is an "invitation to malpractice" was made in an interview with the New Statesman magazine, which was published yesterday, in which he described his own salary as "peanuts". He said the pay for new recruits, who start on pounds 16,000 a year, had fallen dangerously low.

Sir Paul said: "If you're not paying your police officers a wage they can live on, you are almost inviting them to indulge in malpractice. Ours can live on their wages, but it's getting tougher and tougher for young officers to make ends meet.

"That doesn't mean they all go off and do bad things, but if you're serious about integrity, you must make sure there is a reasonable level of pay and conditions that ... doesn't tempt them into malpractice."

Sir Paul, who has fought to clean up corruption in the Met, said he had been living as "a pauper for 30 years as a public servant". A number of years ago his annual salary was reported to be around pounds 95,000.

The force is under scrutiny over a series of corruption scandals. More than 40 officers have been suspended in the current drive to clean up the Metropolitan Police in the biggest corruption enquiry since the Seventies.

John Wadham, director of Liberty, the human rights organisation, said: "If police systems of management and control are so inadequate that recruits and new officers are involved in malpractice, we need to change those systems to make sure that police officers are accountable to the law and accountable to the public.

"It would be a shocking world if the only way in which we could ensure honesty was to pay our police so much that they were rich enough never to be bribed."

But Sir Paul was supported by Paul Whitehouse, Chief Constable of Sussex and chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers' personnel management committee, who said: "At present ... it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain that earlier standard and quality of recruitment."