`It takes pounds 100,000 to bribe a policeman'

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The Independent Online
BRIBES OF up to pounds 100,000 in cash have been paid to police officers for sabotaging court cases, the head of Scotland Yard's anti-corruption squad has revealed.

Detective Chief Superintendent David Wood, who is in charge of CIB 3, a team of 200 detectives set up to tackle corruption in the Metropolitan Police, said that his squad had found officers being paid upwards of pounds 5,000 for helping a criminal to receive a reduced prison sentence, pounds 50,000 for undermining a court case, and pounds 100,000 for destroying a single major trial.

The revelation comes as Scotland Yard faces a series of deeply embarrassing, high-profile prosecutions of officers alleged to have taken bribes to ruin cases.

Det Ch Supt Wood also disclosed, in an interview with The Independent, that the Yard was considering introducing rigorous vetting procedures later this year on about 2,000 detectives working in the most security- sensitive posts to weed out potential wrongdoers.

Under the proposals, those wanting to join squads - including the anti- terrorist and special branches and the organised crime group - would be vetted to ensure that they had no unauthorised criminal contacts or personal problems that might make them vulnerable to bribery.

In the course of the Met's latest anti-corruption drive, 24 police officers and 10 former officers have been charged in cases not related to the latest revelation, along with 14 other people including staff at the Crown Prosecution Service and lawyers.

Det Ch Supt Wood said he was "astonished" to find that some corrupt officers had put the lives of undercover detectives and informants at risk by "feeding back intelligence" of their identities to criminals.

"What astonishes me is that police officers... are quite prepared to lapse into these contacts with organised crime with [the result that] cases that they know colleagues have taken months to put together, and cost millions of pounds, are undermined."

He said the price of a false written statement by a police officer ranged from pounds 5,000 to pounds 7,000 and between pounds 50,000 and pounds 60,000 was the going rate for undermining a court case - usually involving drugs. But "up to pounds 100,000" had been paid to bring about the collapse of a major trial, he said. The bribes were always paid in cash so that they could not be traced.

Det Ch Supt Wood says that he believes "there's a corruption problem in every force in this country", but it will always be worst in the Met, because the capital is "the centre of organised crime".

As part of the work of the new squad dozens of random integrity tests have been carried out on in which officers are checked for racism and dishonesty. So far no officer has been found to be acting inappropriately. The police are now understood to be considering the use of black or Asian actors to replace the non-white officers being used in the tests.

The Metropolitan Police is also considering covert tests on officers carrying out stop and search in the street. The police have been the subject of widespread allegations of racism because a disproportionate number of black and Asian people are being stopped.