3 April 2013

The effectiveness of policing can probably best be measured by the extent to which crime is managed and the public has confidence in the Police.  Statistics released yesterday indicate that reported crime figures in New Zealand are the lowest for 24 years.  Some gloss is taken from that with news that a senior officer who falsified evidence to fit the police case in the 1970 Crewe murders, has died.  But in the UMR Mood of the Nation survey published last month, NZ Police were unchanged as the fourth most respected profession (after nurses, doctors and teachers) and NZ Police remains the second most highly rated of government agencies, with the number respondents indicating that it does an ‘excellent or very good job’ being more than double the number that see the Treasury, Corrections, Labour (now part of MBIE), Education, TPK or MSD doing an ‘excellent or very good job’.

Public confidence in a nation’s police will influence perceptions of corruption.  New Zealand with high confidence levels in the police, consistently rates well on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.  An interesting comparison is of Pakistan, ranked 139 (from 176 countries) in the latest CPI, and recent media reports of Waseem Ahmed.  Waseem, a low ranking police officer has been described in the evidence of a Deputy Inspector General of Police as one of the most powerful people in Karachi through his control of hundreds of gambling dens.  In a country where there is pervasive corruption, police are seen as the most crooked part of a crooked bureaucracy.

Waseem from humble origins, joined the police about 20 years ago. He was an efficient “beater”, collecting a cut from illegal activities for more senior officers. He branched out, and was soon earning tens of thousands of dollars each day from gambling dens and extorting money from drug dealers, brothel managers and diesel fuel smugglers.  Cash given to senior officials made him one of the most powerful people in Karachi’s police.  He bought influence and protection.

Few were surprised when numerous police witnesses at a corruption enquiry expressed ignorance about Waseem.  But everyone was surprised when a Deputy Inspector General spoke of Waseem’s illicit activities and his power in the police force. The Deputy Inspector General was told the same day that he would be transferred out of Karachi. The Supreme Court cancelled the transfer order. Waseem was then dismissed,  only to fly to Dubai from where he continues to wield influence.