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  • Informal economic activity of the police in the transformation countries: the role of the police culture in the police reforms

Informal economic activity of the police in the transformation countries: the role of the police culture in the police reforms

Priority areas of development: sociology
Department: Laboratory for Sociological Analysis
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Goal of research: To analyze the role of police culture in the police reforms in various countries and to study its potential influence on transformation of the police system on Russia.


Questionnaire survey, interview, regression analysis of data.

Empirical base of research

Sociological survey of 1850 police officers in Russia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Latvia; 34 interviews with the police officers and civilians; Data of the budget statistics of the Russian Ministry of Interior as well as some other post-soviet states, 2004-2015; data of World bank and World Economic Forum.

Results of research

As a result of the clustering of 45 countries with available complete data on the level of crime and socio-economic development, four clusters were built. In the first, the performance of the police, courts and prisons is the highest. This cluster is characterized by a developed non-corrupt economy with a large number of crimes recorded by the police. There are no countries of the former USSR and Eastern Europe in this cluster.

The countries with medium productivity and low crime rates are in the second cluster. At the same time, their economic development is not as high as in the first cluster, but the economy is stable, provides a relatively high quality of public infrastructure, etc. In addition to a number of developed countries, this cluster includes Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Croatia.

In the third cluster, which includes Russia, Moldova and Bulgaria a relatively low level of performance, the number of officially registered crimes is the lowest of all four clusters. Here the largest budget deficit of all the clusters and the smallest amount of savings at the national level. At the same time, it is worth noting the highest among all clusters assessment of the security of the legislation of players in the financial market.

In the fourth cluster, there is an extremely low level of performance and a relatively low level of crime. The economies of countries from this cluster are developing and extremely corrupt. This cluster includes Azerbaijan, Georgia, Albania, Kazakhstan, Romania and Slovakia.

Thus, since the collapse of the communist system, not only the socio-economic development of post-communist countries has qualitatively differed, but also the development of their law enforcement systems.

An analysis of budget spending on law enforcement in post-Soviet countries shows rather contradictory trends. If in Russia the share of expenses for the police is relatively small and does not exceed 10-15% and does not tend to increase, in a number of other countries (Kazakhstan and Belarus) this share is much larger (more than 50%) and tends to increase. These differences reflect the current priorities of the country's political leaders.

The analysis showed that police reform is changing the face of Ukraine’s police system. However, it has retained a number of features that impede the success of reforms. They are partly because of the resistance to the reforms of many police leaders. As a result, a high level of centralization, an authoritarian management style, a high level of corruption, and lack of control over the society remain.

An analysis of external and internal commercialization of policing in a number of post-socialist countries led to the conclusion about the relative weakness of oppression to combat the commercialization of police activities: they can have a certain impact on reducing internal commercialization while tightening internal control. However, at the same time intensification of the fight against bribes, apparently, won’t be effective, and may even have the opposite effect (in the case of external commercialization).

Indirect methods of influence on commercialization could have a greater effect, and they are different for these two types. If for external commercialization it is more important to improve the work of the market system, to rid it of cronyism and, apparently, socio-economic factors associated with it (unfair competition, monopolism, etc.), for internal commercialization would be effective development of the social mechanisms aimed at internal cleansing, working out a promotion system, continuous improvement of working conditions of employees, and developing a new system of intra-group ethical restrictions.

The study of the legal basis for the activities of beat officers in Russia suggests that the current legal framework for their activities is based on constitutional principles, but does not have an effective mechanism for implementation. At present, the heads of the territorial bodies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia have neither a clearly defined legal and official duty, nor the need to use indicators of public assessment of the effectiveness of the activity of the beat police officer or the methodology to do that. One of the prerequisites for the effectiveness of this mechanism is the interaction of the police with independent organizations in matters of public evaluation of the beat police officers.

Based on interviews conducted in one of the Russian regions, maintaining the balance of life and work for the female police officers turns out to be a very difficult task. However, the interviewed women more or less successfully solve this problem, due to the short distances between the house and work in small settlements, as well as due to the presence of a partner marriage in many of them. Home functions are “intercepted” not only by their husbands, but also by grandmothers and older children. In some cases, there is even hired personnel (nannies). Therefore, how balanced the life of a female police officer depends largely depends not only on the objective circumstances, but also on her attitude towards them. Nevertheless, overload is present in the lives of even those who do not yet have children, like police males, and there is very little time for rest and personal affairs. However, the women studied are characterized by a high degree of professional motivation; none of them is going to quit or change jobs, and not only in connection with a good, by regional standards, payment for their labor. They are generally focused on work, and most do not see themselves as homemakers, no matter how life is.

Level of implementation,  recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results

The results use in teaching courses for the students of the faculties of social sciences and law in the Higher School of Economics, and as data for the writing up course papers and PhD theses.