School of Social and Political Sciences - Theses

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    Integrity testing and police accountability: a question of balance
    O'Neill, Michael J. ( 1998)
    Allegations of widespread corruption have resulted in the Victoria Police Force adopting an integrity testing strategy. Integrity testing was developed by the New York City Police Department in the 1970’s and involves the creation of a situation designed to provoke a response from a targeted police member to ascertain whether that member is involved in the commission of criminal or disciplinary offences. Despite the adoption of integrity testing by the Victoria Police there is no empirical evidence concerning its effectiveness or its relevance to the Victorian criminal justice system. Whilst there is already a considerable range of mechanisms affecting police accountability, integrity testing has a number of advantages that make it attractive to police administrators. Integrity testing is considered a significant deterrent to unethical behaviour within the ranks, and augments the range of options available to investigators to pursue their investigations. Integrity testing can however erode the positive aspects of police culture and if applied maliciously could result in a police officer being entrapped into committing offences. Although there is no substantial defence of entrapment in Australia the nature of the criminal justice system should ensure that individuals are not convicted of offences arising from an unjust test. The thesis argues that these safeguards are not available under the Victoria Police disciplinary system and it is irresponsible to permit integrity testing for suspected breaches of disciplinary regulations. Covert investigations such as integrity tests have been used by police for some time to facilitate investigations of criminal behaviour outside the ranks. These techniques have been accepted by the courts and are an indication that integrity testing is commensurate with the values and expectations of the judiciary. The depth and scope of the corrupt practices must be weighed against the potentially devastating effect integrity testing can have on the positive aspects of police subculture, only after this equation is calculated can one conclude that integrity testing has net benefits for both the community and the Victoria Police Force. In any event Force Command should ensure that there are appropriate monitoring protocols in place to ensure that integrity testing has a positive, rather than a negative effect on policing in the state of Victoria.