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Reflections and Conclusions: Analyzing Findings, Limitations, and Recommendations

Introduction

This final chapter of the dissertation discusses and analyses the findings of the research, conclusions drawn on the basis of literature review and primary data, the limitations and critique of the research method adopted, and the recommendations made. The final part of this chapter is the reflection part in which the researcher discusses the reflection related to implications for practice as well as personal reflection on the research journey. For students who want to get more familiar with the research and its components seek guidance. It also helps them in navigating the complexities of crafting a literature review of a dissertation. Assistance such as a Literature Review Dissertation Help serve the needed demands of the students.

CRITIQUE OF ADOPTED APPROACH

The approach adopted for this research was qualitative in nature and there was a collection of both secondary and primary data for this research study. The major challenge for the application of this methodology was in the field research through which primary data was collected. As the research progressed and the data collection began, it was found that the initial plan of collection of primary data was difficult to implement. The initial plan was to interview a minimum of twenty people and to that end, fifty research sub-questions were sent out, but only sixteen responded. The second set saw a response of twelve; therefore, in all twenty eight individuals participated in the research, which was more than the initial plan; however, the researcher had to send out two sets of questionnaires for ensuring this level of participation. Follow up questions were made through the use of email, WhatsApp and phone conversation with the participants.

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In all, eleven Police Officers and seventeen ordinary citizens participated in this research. However, the major difficulties were in the area of police officer participation because it was challenging to draw the participants out and get them to answer the questions. In hindsight, it can be said that the researcher interviewing police officers on police corruption needs to devise a strategy that is not the same as the strategy for questioning the civilian participants. In responding to the questions, civilian participants were more forthcoming about their views, experiences and perceptions, but the same cannot be said about the police officers who were guarded, reticent and even defensive while answering questions. The strategy for questioning police officers would have gained considerably by having consideration of similar research studies in the past and the strategy used by the previous researchers in getting the participants to open up. Therefore, the critique of the approach used in this research is that it did not devise an appropriate strategy for interviewing police officers based on previous empirical studies involving a similar area of research. This issue could also have been resolved by resorting to a consideration of previous research studies involving participants who are authority figures.

ANALYSIS

This section of the chapter discusses and analyses what the findings mean and how these findings of the research can be linked back to the general themes noted from the literature on this subject matter. This dissertation had discussed the literature on the police corruption in general in the literature review and has reported the findings on police corruption in Zambia in the chapter on findings. Based on these two chapters, this part of the chapter discusses how the findings on Zambia relate to the general literature on police corruption. The purpose of this section is to give meaning and context to the findings on police corruption in Zambia through the application and linking back to the theory on police corruption discussed in the literature review chapter. This section also links the analysis to the objectives of the research so that it can be discussed as to how the findings are able to achieve the objectives of the research. The objectives of the research were to explore current literature on police corruption in Zambia; explore interlinks between corruption and police activity and the factors for corruption; to investigate the current approaches to responding to corruption in the Zambia Police service; to compare objective (iii) with objectives (i) and (ii); and to draw conclusions and make recommendations on how to effectively prevent and combat corruption in the Zambia Police service. The aim of this research was to increase understanding on the perceptions on the level of individual and institutional corruption in the police services and its effects.

The findings of this research suggest that the perceptions of corruption in Zambia is that there are varied opinions on the existence of corruption within the police service of the country. The majority of the citizens in Zambia view police corruption as an externality of the service because police is charged with the enforcement of laws and may not be easily affected by such laws. The police cannot enforce laws against themselves, which are external to themselves and which have to be enforced against other people as noted by Martin (2019). He also notes that Zambians believe that the police do not enforce the anti-corruption laws against themselves and for that reason the corruption in the police can never be tamed (Martin, 2019). Therefore, the perception of the police being corruption is commonly seen amongst Zambians and there is also a perception that Zambian police are not effective in reducing the institutional corruption levels because they do not enforce the laws against themselves.

There is also a perception of generalised corruption in the public services in Zambia because it is believed that unless people pay bribes to the public officials, they will not be able to get their work done. This was one of the findings of this study, where it was found that there is a high perception of the public services being slow and ineffective for which many people have no choice but to pay bribes to public officials in order to get their work done (Gundani, 2018). The slow, ineffective and unreliable delivery of public services in Zambia is therefore one of the reasons why corruption becomes normalised in Zambia with many common people also being willing to pay bribes (Gundani, 2018). This also has implications for the corruption within the police services, as being one of the public services, for which perception of effectiveness is low, there is a high incidence of bribe giving to the police for the purpose of getting their police related work done. Thus, it has been found that many Zambians believe that it is necessary for them to bribe police officials if they want the services to be delivered to them in an effective and prompt manner. Rampant police corruption in Zambia can therefore, be attributed to this inefficacy of the police services in Zambia. Thus, one of the findings of this research is that Zambians consider police corruption to be a necessary evil, which citizens have to give in to for the purpose achieving certain ends.

Although, police corruption can now be characterised as being common in Zambia with many police officials being involved in activities that are corrupt, including taking bribes from the public, which increases the perceptions of high corruption in the police services, there is little public criticism of the same (Hope Sr., 2019). There is also a prevalence of the view amongst common Zambians that crimes that do not hurt anybody should be ignored as they do not pose a problem for the society (Hope Sr., 2019: Azeez, 2019). In other words, there is a perception that police corruption is harmless, in that it only involves giving bribes to the police to do their jobs and this does not actually harm the society, even though it is a wrong or a crime.

Therefore, there is a ‘see-nothing-say-nothing’ kind of perception about police corruption, which is based on a premise that what does not harm the society does not have to be reported. This means that many Zambians experience police corruption but, they do not report it to the higher authorities or publicly criticise it. This has repercussions for the level of institutional corruption in Zambia. This needs to be discussed in greater detail here because there is a link between the public apathy to policy corruption and the increase in institutional corruption. It would be incorrect to say that police corruption does not harm the society or that it is acceptable for the police to take bribery for performing their functions. Bribes taken by the police amounts to illegal payments of some kind for the doing of their own functions (Morris, 2011). Encouraging these kinds of activities only leads to the proliferation of institutional corruption in the police forces, where corruption itself can take different forms; and it would be incorrect to say that corruption has no negative impact on the society. For instance, institutional corruption can lead to police officers being involved in acts that are not only illegal but also immoral, like opportunistic theft from dead bodies that are found in the scenes of crimes. Even the taking of bribery by the police may not just be for doing their lawful functions; if bribery is normalised or becomes publicly acceptable, it can lead to police personnel then becoming encouraged to ‘shakedown’, which is the acceptance of bribe for not following lawful procedures. Thus, police may take bribery from unlawful groups or criminals for the purpose of not arresting a known criminal or for not following up on a committed crime in exchange for a bribe (Sahin, 2010). Moreover, corruption may also be linked to the high incidences of corporate crimes in the nation as firms involved in criminal conduct such as fraud may not be investigated because they are bribing the police service (Phiri and Guven-Uslu, 2019).

Such kinds of corrupt activities have a harmful effect on the society because crimes go un-investigated and it leads to the proliferation of criminal activities. Therefore, while the citizens of Zambia may believe that they are only giving bribes to the police officials for the purpose of performing their lawful functions, which do not have a negative impact on the society, in reality, this kind of behaviour only encourages the police forces to take bribery for acts that harm the society. Moreover, the public acceptance of police corruption also leads to a situation where corruption goes unreported and the measures to combat corruption fail to bear fruits (Mbao, 2011). In Zambia, such measures also fail to combat corruption because the individual has to report incidences of corruption to the police itself (Phiri and Guven-Uslu 2019). Civilians may be scared to report such incidences to the very departments where corruption has taken place. The absence of a robust judiciary only adds to the problem (Eme, et., al., 2017; Punch, 2009). This may be the reason why to the question on whether current measures were adequate to combat police corruption, 100 percent of the respondents in the interview replied in the negative.

Acceptance of police corruption in the public and a perception that corruption is not harmful to the society and it is a common practice can also lead to the corruption in the police forces becoming widespread, or becoming a form of ‘institutional corruption’ (Lessig, 2013). Even encouraging a few police officers to be corrupt can be harmful to the police forces in the long run because a few ‘bad apples’ or ‘rotten apples’ can lead to more widespread incidence of corruption over a period of time (Johnson, 2016).

In Zambia, public perceptions of police indicate that police corruption is now considered to be widespread and endemic, therefore, police corruption can now be characterised as institutional corruption at least in the context of police corruption. There are serious implications of such corruption in Zambia because the police action and effectiveness is compromised when corruption leads to a more incompetent police force and increased economic costs for the nations (Clarke, 2019).

The next part of this section analyses the applicability of the principal theories on police corruption in the context of the Zambian police forces. In this, the section compares and contrasts these theories in how they may apply to the police corruption in Zambia. The purpose is to conclude on which theories are confirmed in the context of Zambia and which do not seem to be applicable to the Zambian context. Two of the main theories discussed in the literature review were the Rotten Apple theory and the Slippery Slope theory. Slippery Slope refers to the process of gradual corruption of police officers, with junior officers becoming corrupt after following the examples set by their seniors (Welsh et al. 2015; Buttle, et al., 2016). Police officers are rewarded for corruption within their corrupt departments through postings and increased opportunities to make bigger personal gains (Bail, et al., 2012).

The slippery slope is akin to a rotten barrel, which refers to the phenomenon of a corrupt department perpetuating conditions in which un-corrupt policemen are corrupted over a period of time (Gottschalk, 2012; Awopeju, 2018). The rotten apple theory is used to explain the corruption of few leading to the development of corruption of many (Awopeju, 2018; Sherman, 1974). Rosenbaum (2016) writes that corruption can be explained in the terms of rotten apples; rotten barrels; and rotten orchards. In Zambia, it would appear that the explanation of corruption can be found in the slippery slope or rotten barrel theory because there appears to be institutionalised corruption in Zambia based on the primary data collected for this research. Therefore, the new police officers may be tempted into corrupt activities because of the perpetuation of the conditions in the police forces that lead to gradual corruption of the police officers. High level of acceptance in the organisation as well as low level of oversight may compound the problem of the slippery slope.

OVERALL CONCLUSIONS

This section of the chapter will explain how this study has met the research aims that were posed in the research study and how the research question is answered. The section also makes recommendations for the reducing of the incidence of police corruption.

The findings of this research suggest that there is a high level of corruption in the police forces in Zambia and that there is also a high level of public acceptance of such corruption. The police corruption may be explained on the basis of the slippery slope theory or the rotten barrel theory, which focusses on the potential for a corrupt organisation to corrupt even the non-corrupt entrants over a period of time. There is a poor perception of the police in Zambia and it is recommended that the government should take more effective steps to reduce the incidences of corruption. Police officers should be trained on professional ethics (Martin, 2019: Isbell, 2018). They should also be sensitised to the problems faced by the general public when they do not do their job without incentivisation of bribes. Related to this, it is recommended that the bribe taking in the police forces can be reduced if the police officers are paid better pay and their working conditions are improved as many officers may resort to bribery because of the poor pay structures within the police force. It is also recommended that oversight over the departments should increase through the use of independent overseeing bodies so that greater surveillance and supervision of police officers can be done (Azeez, 2019: Clarke, 2019).

Final recommendation is that there is a need for tighter laws and judicial mechanisms to respond to the problem of police corruption in Zambia. The laws made by the Zambian state are not adequate to respond to the problem of corruption in the police as suggested by the findings of this research study. Moreover, the enforcement of these laws as against the police itself may be weak and compromised by the fact that the police may not be implementing the laws against themselves. Related to this is the recommendation that there should be an ombudsman who is responsible for enforcing the law as against the police officials against whom complaints are made regarding corrupt activities. As of now, citizens are required to report corruption to the departments themselves, which is not an effective mechanism because many citizens may be hesitant to make such complaints in the very departments that are to be investigated. This is a weakness in the current structure and mechanisms involved in responding to police corruption in Zambia. These need to be reformed so that police corruption can be reported to the proper and independent authorities.

LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

Although, this study has been conducted on an area where there is a lack of significant research in the past, and it answers some questions on perceptions of police corruption in Zambia, there are some limitations of this research, which are noted here. The first limitation is that although this research has been conducted on the basis of primary data, the sample was very small. The researcher has primarily utilised secondary data through the method of literature review on both the general theory on police corruption as well as police corruption in Zambia. The use of literature review and secondary sources was useful for the purpose of identifying theory and also exploring the areas of gaps in the existing literature. However, it is not a strong method for exploring perceptions on police corruption. In the absence of a large sample for primary research in this research, the literature on empirical research on police corruption on Zambia was resorted to for informing the major portion of the findings for this research study. This however cannot take the place of a primary research in the present study. Therefore, while this research reports on the perceptions on police corruption in Zambia, the use of small sample of primary data is a limitation of this research. The second limitation of this research is that it utilises a qualitative method whereas a mixed methods research may have been more appropriate for conducting this study. A qualitative method is able to conduct a deep analysis or in-depth research into an area that involves complex and multiple narratives. However, in the context of the present study, which sought to explore perceptions on police corruption, it would have been useful to conduct a mixed methods research that would have also employed quantitative research. Quantitative research is needed to quantify or measure the perception levels on police corruption. Conducting such research would allow the researcher to identify the number of people who believe that police corruption is high as well as the number of people who have experienced police corruption.

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OPPORTUNITIES FOR FURTHER RESEARCH

There is a significant amount of scope for further research in this area in the future. This research has exposed gaps in the literature on perceptions of police corruption in Zambia. One of the gaps is that although literature indicates that there is a high level of police corruption in Zambia, there is a lack of quantitative data that can be useful for actually measuring the levels of police corruption in the country. Another gap is that while literature indicates that it is perceived by many Zambians that corruption is a necessary evil and that they are required to pay bribes to the police officials for getting their work done, literature lacks measurable data on the percentage of the people who are exposed to corruption or made to pay bribes. This is another area where a future research following quantitative or mixed methods research may be conducted for providing more knowledge on this subject.

REFLECTION

The findings of this research suggest that there is a significant level of corruption in the police services and that the public perception is also high of the same. More worryingly, this research indicates that there is a possible high level of social acceptance of police corruption as a necessary evil and also public participation in corruption through the giving of bribes to the police personnel. These findings have implications for practice and can be used to inform future practice and policy. This study finds that although the public may perceive that there is little social harm of police corruption, literature shows the dangers that are imbedded in such an approach. The principal dangers are that corruption in the police forces becomes normalised and there is an increase in institutional corruption in the police forces due to such normalisation. There is also a problem of the slippery slope where police personnel gradually become corrupt because such corruption is rewarded within the contexts of an institutionalised corruption. The implication of this is that there is a need to respond to police corruption through better governance as well as sanctions for which relevant policy has to be made. As of yet, there is no policy to combat police corruption in Zambia. On the other hand, there is a normalisation of corruption because of high level of social acceptance. Moreover, there is a public perception that laws made to combat illegal and corrupt activities do not apply to the police forces as they are the ones responsible for implementing the law and they do not implement laws against themselves. Therefore, there is an indication that laws need to be addressed or possibly changed. Some structural changes may also be required for the purpose of responding to corruption, such as, setting up of bodies like Ombudsman for responding to allegations of corruption within the police forces.

The final part of this concluding chapter is a personal reflection of my learning and development whilst undertaking this research. I can say that the biggest advantage of this research was to the development of my knowledge and understanding of research methods. Before undertaking this research, I was aware of the different methods of research and I believed that it would be easy for me to apply this knowledge to an actual research study. However, the beginning period of this research study was very challenging for me because I took a significant amount of time to finalise my research approach and methodology. What I thought was easy was only in theory while in practice I found that identifying a research method is rather challenging. I had initially thought that I would conduct a mixed methods research but, realised that the time and budget constraints would not allow me to conduct a primary research with a reasonable sample from Zambia. There were also operational difficulties that I did not think I could overcome. Moreover, I realised that my knowledge of measurement of variables was not adequate enough for me to conduct such a research. Interestingly, I also faced a challenge in identifying my research philosophy. I was deeply interested in exploring the link between Christian beliefs and perceptions of corruption in Zambia but, I realised that this was too broad a topic and required a level of interpretivism which I did not think I could have done at this point.

These early challenges regarding research methodology made me realise that one of the most important aspects of research is research methods. If researchers are able to overcome these challenges in the early period of their research study, it becomes easier for them to conduct a systematic and meaningful research. I finally chose to conduct a qualitative research, which I have found to be useful for identifying theory and major themes in a given area. Doing qualitative research has also helped me in learning how to organise the data, which can be copious and also streamlining my research into literature and secondary sources (and not getting distracted by irrelevant literature) by keeping myself focussed on the research aims, objectives and research questions that my research is trying to answer. This has proved to be a very learning experience for me and I think that I can use the lessons that I have learnt here for conducting more research in the future, hopefully in the same area, that is, police corruption in Zambia. I would also hope to apply quantitative methods of research in the future study on the same area of research.


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