Potential Corruption within Europol
„Power corrupts, but it is power that attracts the corruptible”.A critical assessment of this statement with reference to a public sector organisation and its potential for corruption.
Corruption can be identified as the misuse of power for personal gain. Those in positions of power who exhibit corrupt behaviour, misuse their power of authority to increase their personal gain and do not use their power of authority for the good of public interest. The illusion of power can affect a person's behaviour and thinking, causing one to feel they can achieve more, or in fact, deserve more because they are in a position of power. It can be difficult to expose corruption when self-serving actions can be hidden under the guise of good public policy. The phrase, “power corrupts, but it is power that attracts the corruptible” will be critically assessed in the following essay with reference to police, specifically the European Police Office (Europol), as an example of a public sector organisation with the potential for corruption.
In order to best assess this statement, one must first analyse the word “power”. In its simplicity, power can be defined as a controlling influence. Someone who has power can be considered to have a controlling influence over particular situations and others. Jacob (2010), provides an accurate description of the potential of corruption due to positions of power; stating that there is evidence those that believe their position of power is deserve “are morally pliable and more prone to abuse their privileges” (p.1). Jacob (2010) also believes power and hypocrisy are correlated; he writes, Studies have documented that power and hypocrisy go hand in hand as the powerful feel a sense of entitlement; their sense of privilege become private law. The culture of entitlement results in double standards, one for themselves, their family and friends, and the other for the general population (p.1).
Europol, has enormous power which has continuously increased since its inception in 1993 and has the ability to conduct investigations in twenty-seven member states of the EU (Wolverton, 2010). Prior to 2010, Europol was seen as an extension of EU national intelligence and law enforcement communities (2010). As of 2010 however, Europol has “the plenary powers of a full EU agency” and it now considered an “official criminal intelligence-gathering branch of the EU government” (2010, p. 1).
Europol now has the power to enormous amounts of personal information found on the EUs most information sensitive databases, such as the world's largest database that is maintained by the government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown. This can be concerning, as Europol now has access to all types of information, including “political affiliation, routine, places frequented, DNA, tax obligations, voiceprints and sexual preferences” (Wolverton, 2010, p.1). Europol is not subject to national law. While there have been efforts to protect non-public information through Europol's confidentiality rules, many people feel this is not enough (IAPP, 2010).
Power can attract those who seek to benefit themselves more than they desire to use the power to benefit the public. The second half of the statement to be analysed is, “but it is power that attracts the corruptible.” This part of the statement focuses not on power being the variable which corrupts the person in power but that the component known as power will attract someone who is apt to be corrupted. Someone who is apt to be corrupted is someone who seeks personal benefits more than overall good for public, or society as a whole.
The viewpoint that power attracts corruptible people can lead many to believe that all positions of power are filled with corrupt people – as those are the individuals seeking the power and personal benefits achievable through positions of power. While this is not the case, there are individuals who seek positions of power with the intention of misusing their power for personal gain.