Balkan Countries See Police as Corrupt, Report Says

Only around 5 per cent of people in the Western Balkans see the police as an uncorrupt force, research by five civil sector organizations shows.

Sasa Djordjevic

Bojan Elek and Sasa Djordjevic, BCBP researchers | Photo by Beta

New research carried out by POINTPULSE, a civil organization network, shows that more than 90 per cent of people in the Western Balkan believe their police are corrupt.

The POINTPULSE network unites BIRN Serbia, the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, the Centre for Security Studies from Sarajevo, the Institute Alternative from Podgorica and the Kosovo Centre for Security Studies in Pristina.

The research was conducted in Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Montenegro. The results for Serbia were presented on July 22 in Belgrade.

While people in the region see unemployment is the number one problem, corruption took second place as a problem on the list in all the surveyed countries.

Those polled also see the police in the top five most corrupt institutions in the region, according to the data.

The research shows people in Kosovo are the most inclined in the region to see the police as corrupt, although people from Kosovo paradoxically also perceive policemen as friendly and professional.

People in the region mostly perceive the police as arrogant, unprofessional and presumptuous, and some also fear the police.

In Serbia, on a survey of 1,205 adult citizens, the report says that 19 per cent of people do not trust the police at all. Younger and more educated people in Serbia trust the police least and people over 60 and with only basic education trust the police more.

Also, 28 per cent of people in Serbia think the senior police officials are the most corrupt members of the force while 20 per cent believe lower ranking officers are the most corrupt.

Also, 47 per cent of surveyed people in Serbia believe that the police take bribes from criminals, while 23 per cent believe regular citizens bribe the police the most.

Politics still plays an important role in police work in Serbia, the research suggests. A huge 81 per cent of citizens believe the police work in the interest of the ruling political parties.

Bojan Elek, a researcher at the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, said it was “necessary to curb the influence of politics in the police department.

“Better human resources management and police education is necessary…NGOs and governments should battle corruption together,” Elek added.

The report shows that most people in Serbia, some 78 per cent of those surveyed, view   corruption as normal.

Sasa Djordjevic, a researcher from the Centre for Security Policy, said that result was “worrying.

“This information indicates that corruption is becoming a kind of a common law in Serbia, that being corrupt is normal, and that is a very big problem,” Djordjevic said.

In Serbia, 21 per cent of people think that the Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic, is the biggest fighter against corruption, while 13 per cent think that the government is battling corruption the most. Only 6 per cent of people think that internal police control is eradicating corruption within the police.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, people don’t seem to know who should be fighting corruption, the research suggests.

Around 50 per cent of people in Bosnia and Herzegovina either don’t know who is fighting corruption, or think that nobody is working on the problem.


23 July 2015