scope of this paper focuses on police corruption. More speciﬁcally, we will examine what
police corruption in China and India looks like and offer up some potential reasons for its
persistence. I decidedto conduct a comparative study between China and India becausethey
share similarities (e.g.both have large populations, long cultural historiesand started on the
economic reform road roughlyabout the same time), as well as differences (e.g. China is said
to be the largest authoritarian regime in the world and India the largest democracy).
Moreover, because of their size and growing importance on the world stage, any internal
societal shifts will not only impact their own population but also have potential
consequences for the wider world.
2. Literature review
There is no universally accepted deﬁnition of corruption (Holmes, 2015) but the traditional
view is that it involves economic improprieties, such as, bribes and embezzlement by a
public ofﬁcial and there is usually an element of reciprocity in the corrupt transaction
(Heidenheimer and Levine, 1989;Glaeser and Goldin, 2008; Porta et al., 1997). However, the
concept of corruption has evolved and the scope widened to include both private-to-private
sectors without the need for a public ofﬁcialas shown by the passing of The UK Bribery Act
2010 (Comer and Stephens, 2013). Additionally, according to Meny (1997), the practice of
nepotism and cronyism whichleads to privileged insiders may also be viewed as corruption
in some circumstances.
The Knapp Commission’s investigationof the New York Police Department in the early
1970s is a much cited report in the ﬁeld of police corruption. The commission coined two
terms that describespolice corruption which is now frequentlyused. They are “grass-eaters”
and “meat-eaters”. The former refers to police ofﬁcers who will accept bribes if offered to
them and the latter refers to morepredatory ofﬁcers who actively seeks or solicit bribes but
some analysts prefersto use the terms “proactive and reactive corruption”(Holmes,2014).
However, I would argue that when researching into police corruption, the traditional
understanding of corruption is insufﬁcient because other police malpractices extends
beyond those described above. Forexample, there exists the term “noble cause corruption”
in policing which has been depicted in popular cultureby Hollywood movies such as Dirty
Harry and Apache the Bronx.This is where an ofﬁcer abuses his position of authority
through administering the ofﬁcer’s versionof substantive (result justiﬁes the means) rather
than procedural (stickingto legal rules of evidence and procedures, etc.) justice.
For the purposes of this paper, the deﬁnition of corruption includes bribes,
embezzlement, rent extraction, nepotism, cronyism, cover ups for police misconduct and
abuse of power (including “noble cause”and unlawful violence). Other activities such as
“mumping”(Punch, 2010)or“blagging”, i.e. proactivelyseeking freebies such as gifts, food
and drinks, are also “corruption”if the ofﬁcer acquires it from businesses who gives it
grudgingly because the owner feels intimidated by the ofﬁcer. However, if the businesses
provide these as gratuitiesbecause they are genuinely grateful for the work that the police is
doing in their community –“slippery slope”(Sherman, 1974) not withstanding –then they
may be contrary to the discipline codes of the policeforce in question (e.g. Singapore) but the
act is not police corruption for the purposesof this paper.
The effect of corruption is wide ranging and impact directly in the lives of the masses in
many ways. For example, it has social, economic (Madsen, 2013), politico-legal,
environmental, security-related, international and inequality implications(Holmes, 2015)for
the host nation, as well as risks for trading partnersand global ﬁnancial institutions. If left
unchecked, it erodes the quality of everyday lives of its citizens and has a demoralising
impact on its people,as well as legitimacy challenges for the ruling elite (Holmes,2015).