Police recorded more than 800 complaints about corruption over three years, a report has revealed.
Allegations of police corruption have been damaging to public confidence, an investigation ordered by the Home Secretary ruled.
While corruption is "not endemic" across England and Wales, "it is corrosive of the public trust that is at the heart of policing", the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said.
The IPCC recorded 837 corruption-related referrals from forces between 2008 and 2011. Just 122 of the referrals were managed by the watchdog.
The report was requested by the Government in the wake of allegations of police corruption in the phone-hacking scandal.
The IPCC report made recommendations for a "more effective" national system for handling allegations against senior officers.
Chief constables are also asked to ensure "greater consistency in the recording and referral of corruption cases" and provide clearer public information on what constitutes police corruption.
Responding to concerns about the relationship between the police and media, IPCC chairwoman Dame Anne Owers said: "There are strong links between public trust and perceptions of police corruption.
"A serious focus on tackling police corruption is important, not just because it unearths unethical police behaviour, but because of the role it plays in wider public trust, views of police legitimacy and, on a practical level, cooperation and compliance with the police."
The publication of the report coincides with an ongoing police investigation into allegations that a Scotland Yard anti-corruption officer took bribes from private detectives.
Deputy Chief Constable Bernard Lawson, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "This report again recognises that corruption is neither endemic nor widespread in the police service.
"However, the actions of a few corrupt officers can corrode the great work of so many working hard daily to protect the public.
"Chief Officers around the country recognise this issue and devote considerable energy and resource to identify and deal with corruption.
"The report identifies that many investigations and successful prosecutions result from officers and police staff themselves coming forward to point out wrongdoing."