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August 19, 2014

Policing, scandal, and the regulation of illegal betting in Depression-era Sydney

Richard EvansDeakin Criminologist Dr Richard Evans has this week had an article published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology (online first) examining the evidence gathered as part of the 1930’s Markell Royal Commission into police misconduct.

To read Richard’s article click here.


One groundbreaking aspect of the Wood Royal Commission into police corruption in New South Wales was to recognize the importance of the historical dimension of corruption. The historical consensus is that systemic police corruption emerged in NSW only after the Second World War but, as Wood acknowledged, there has been little detailed research into earlier periods. One window into policing in the 1930s is provided by the Markell Royal Commission, which investigated allegations of police misconduct in relation to illegal, or ‘SP’, bookmaking in 1936. This article explores the evidence gathered by Markell. It is argued that poor police management contributed to the growth of systemic corruption in NSW from the early 1930s, that a defensive reaction by police to the exposure of this corruption caused an opportunity for reform to be lost, and that the Markell inquiry uncovered entrenched police corruption at a level of complexity previously thought not to have appeared for another decade.


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