Bribery in the UK rises 400% in three years

A new survey reveals an increase in British bribery - and a sizeable distrust of the media.

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 09 Jul 2013

Corruption is on the rise. Apparently, there has been a rapid increase in ‘brown paper baggery’ in the UK, according to clarity defenders Transparency International.

The organisation has released the results of its annual global corruption survey, and while we are by no means the worst, the UK has seen an increase in bribery. According to the survey, 5% of UK respondents have paid a bribe in the last 12 months – a noticeable leap from 2010’s figure of 1%.

The figures are backed up by public sentiment in Britain. According to the survey, 65% of people in the UK believe corruption has risen in the past two years.

When asked which sector they thought were the worst offenders, the respondents pointed to - ahem - the media. A tidy 69% believed the media is the most affected – a rise from 40% in the 2010 survey.

(MT would like to make it perfectly clear than we don’t endorse bribery. Even if we could afford it...Which we can’t.)

The usual suspects - politicians - came in second, with 67% viewing political parties as being affected by corruption and a whopping 90% believing that the UK government is run by a few big entities ‘acting in their own interest.’

Despite the increase, UK citizens remain resolute in their moral standing, with 91% saying they would be willing to report corruption.

‘Despite several warning signals over the past five years, the UK has been complacent about corruption. The result is now beginning to show, and some recent actions, like the abolition of the Audit Commission, are likely to make the situation worse,’ says Robert Barrington, executive director of Transparency International UK.

‘We need the government to accept there is a problem in the UK, rather than claiming it is only a problem overseas. People have been surprised that the first prosecutions under the 2010 Bribery Act were for offences in the UK – our survey suggests it is not such a surprise, but the government has not been paying sufficient attention to this disturbing trend.’

In a small saving grace, the news comes on the same day that the UK government announces it’s joining the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). The Initiative was set up to increase transparency in the way revenues are treated in the oil and gas industry. Well - one sector at a time, eh?

The Global Corruption Barometer 2013 surveyed some 114,000 people in a whopping 107 countries. Worldwide, 27% of respondents admitted to paying a bribe, specifically when accessing public services and institutions in the last year.

It also found that globally, people’s appraisal of their leaders’ efforts to stop corruption is worse than before the financial crisis began in 2008, when 31% said their government’s efforts to fight corruption were effective. This year it fell to 22%.

Is it the recession? Is it an increase in bureaucracy in public services? Or is it simply a new penchant for paper bags? Your guess is as good as ours - but however we try and explain it, the figures don’t lie. More of us are happy to grease palms to get what we want.

Drag your mouse over the countries to see the percentage of the population who have paid a bribe

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