A wide-ranging and ambitious programme specifically designed to boost the UK’s ability to tackle corruption at home and abroad has been announced by the coalition Government.
The UK Anti-Corruption Plan, which includes over 60 actions for Government and partners, will set the strategic direction for all anti-corruption activity over the coming year and ensure greater collaboration and consistency across both the public and private sectors.
The plan, which paints a comprehensive picture of the threat to the UK from corruption, will highlight ways in which safeguards are being reinforced within key sectors and institutions, including the criminal justice system and associated professions.
By enhancing the response of law enforcement agencies, it will also ensure individuals involved in bribery and corruption – or those who hide their illicit assets in the UK – are relentlessly pursued and brought to justice.
Building on Prime Minister David Cameron’s commitments outlined at the G8 Lough Erne Summit last year, the plan also sets out how the coalition Government is doing more to increase transparency, tackle the scourge of money laundering and ensure that the UK is at the forefront of efforts to raise international standards.
The UK Anti-Corruption Plan’s delivery will be overseen and reviewed by an Inter-Ministerial Group chaired by Matthew Hancock (the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Energy and the Government’s ‘Anti-Corruption Champion’) and Karen Bradley, Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime.
Grave threat to economic prosperity
“All the studies show that corruption is a grave threat to our economic prosperity and, indeed, our national security,” stated Matthew Hancock. “As host to what is one of the world’s largest financial centres, the UK has a moral duty and global responsibility to ensure that corrupt officials and organised criminals do not abuse our systems. We’re one of the least corrupt nations on earth, but we want to do more.”
Hancock added: “This new plan will make sure that we spearhead the international fight against corruption. Together with our international partners, we will push for robust action against corruption at every possible opportunity.”
Karen Bradley said: “The UK has far lower levels of corruption and bribery than most other countries around the world, but we cannot afford to be complacent. Corruption’s impact is hugely disproportionate to the level and frequency at which it occurs and can have a serious impact on public confidence in our institutions.”
Speaking about the Government’s move, Bradley asserted: “Our comprehensive UK Anti-Corruption Plan, which goes hand-in-hand with our Serious and Organised Crime Strategy, will bring greater co-ordination and coherence to existing activity and set a clear course for the future work of both Government and law enforcement agencies.”
Specifics of the Anti-Corruption Plan
Under the Anti-Corruption Plan, which has been developed as part of the second Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, the:
*National Crime Agency will establish a specialist unit (including a multi-agency intelligence team) to tackle bribery and corruption head on
*Home Office will establish a new offence of police corruption and recently launched a consultation on measures to better protect police whistle-blowers
*Treasury and Home Office will complete a national risk assessment on money laundering and terrorist financing, subsequently addressing any issues it highlights through an Anti-Money Laundering Action Plan
*Department for International Development will formulate plans to launch an international rapid response team to provide expert assistance on mutual legal assistance and asset recovery for those countries undergoing regime change
*Cabinet Office will work with civil society groups to improve transparency and open data to reduce opportunities for corruption
*Foreign & Commonwealth Office will develop a ‘toolkit’ of interventions with the aim of tackling international corruption cases and raising global standards
UK Government’s key priorities going forward
The UK is ranked as one of the least corrupt of the 170 countries listed on Transparency International’s most recent annual ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’.
The Government has taken a number of steps in recent years to tackle corruption and there are good structures and legislation in place such as the Bribery Act. The coalition has also published the aforementioned Serious and Organised Crime Strategy and established the National Crime Agency to enhance the nationwide response to serious forms of criminality, among them bribery and corruption.
The UK Anti-Corruption Plan highlights that the Government’s priorities are:
*to build a better picture of how corruption is affecting our society and economy
*to strengthen our legal and operational tools and activity
*enhance our law enforcement response
*deny the use of our financial system for those who are trying to abuse it
*step up our efforts on the international stage