Today Transparency International has published its latest opinion survey of global corruption, polling 114,000 people in 107 countries, including the UK.

You can find an analysis and full details of the global results here: 

An overview of the UK results can be found here:

We are quoting their press release in full as it provides a shocking insight into the way the British public regard the great institutions of the media and politics in the United Kingdom.

Key findings and analysis

Global results

  • 27 per cent of respondents have paid a bribe when accessing public services and institutions in the last 12 months.
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 people surveyed said they would act against corruption and two-thirds of those who were asked to pay a bribe had refused.
  • 36 countries view police as the most corrupt, and in those countries an average of 53 per cent of people had been asked to pay a bribe to the police. 20 countries view the judiciary as the most corrupt.
  • Politicians have much to do to regain trust. In 51 countries around the world, political parties are seen as the most corrupt institution. 55 per cent of respondents think government is run by special interests.
  • Around the world, people’s appraisal of their leaders’ efforts to stop corruption is worse than before the financial crisis began in 2008, when 31 per cent said their government’s efforts to fight corruption were effective. This year it fell to 22 per cent.

UK results

Some of the stats which particularly caught my attention in the UK are:

  • 65 per cent of people in the UK believe corruption has increased in the last two years.
  • Perception of corruption in the UK media has significantly increased since the publication of Transparency International’s 2010 survey when less than 40 per cent believed the sector to be affected by corruption. This year the figure has risen to 69 per cent, placing it as the sector people believe to be most affected by corruption.

The survey also shows a crisis of trust in UK politics:

  • Of the people surveyed, 67 per cent view political parties as being affected by corruption, and 55 per cent believe that the British parliament has a corruption problem.
  • 90 per cent believe that the UK Government is run by a few big entities acting in their own interest.
  • Of the 91 per cent who would be willing to report corruption, 40 per cent would want to make that report to a government hotline – which currently does not exist.
  • 62 per cent think the Government’s actions are ineffective in tackling corruption. 

UK Bribery is apparently on the rise:

  • 5 per cent of UK respondents have paid a bribe in the last 12 months – a jump since Transparency International’s 2010 survey, when only 1 per cent reported as such. Of those who have done so in the last year, more have paid a bribe to the judiciary than any other sector. 

A headline interpretation of these UK results :

  • Despite several warning signals over the past five years, the UK has been complacent about corruption.  The result is now beginning to show, and some recent actions, like the abolition of the Audit Commission, are likely to make the situation worse.
  • We need the Government to accept there is a problem in the UK rather than claiming it is only a problem overseas.
  • This means having someone specifically in charge of tackling corruption; undertaking a national corruption risk assessment; drawing up a national action plan; and making sure that all areas of the public sector have in place the kind of anti-corruption procedures that the government expects of the private sector.
  • People have been surprised that the first prosecutions under the 2010 Bribery Act were for offences in the UK – our survey suggests it is not such a surprise, but the Government has not been paying sufficient attention to this disturbing trend.
  • It seems to us at the BriberyLibrary that whilst many people living in the UK may look down upon other countries and scorn the high levels of corruption in many countries around the world, that old and very well used idiom about “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” is entirely applicable here. Well, not that we shouldn’t try to persuade others to improve, but we really must clean up our own corruption if we are going to have real prospects of persuading others to do what we do, and not just what we say. Enforcement of the Bribery Act and indeed of the pre-Bribery Act laws needs to be ramped up, and not just by the Serious Fraud Office but by all relevant prosecuting bodies. That’s the only way the government can demonstrate that it is truly serious about stamping out home grown corruption and is also prepared to show leadership to the rest of the world.