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Fewer people reporting corruption, police say

ALTHOUGH police last year filed charges in more corruption cases than in previous years, the number of people who are willing to report corruption is falling.

According to a police study of corruption in 2006, instead of relying on citizens' reports, the police had to take a more active role in uncovering corruption cases last year.

Tibor Gašpar, the head of the police Anti-Corruption Unit, said for the Sme daily that the situation could have arisen from the negative experiences that some corruption whistle-blowers have had.

Witnesses have to undergo repeated hearings, to confront the accused directly, or to travel frequently to Pezinok in western Slovakia, where the country's Special Court for corruption cases is situated.

Gašpar also said that people who report corruption at the tax office, for example, fear tax audits in revenge.

Transparency International Slovakia head Emília Sičáková-Beblavá says that another problem is that the police are unable to protect witnesses. She thinks that the police should provide anonymity more often.

Sičáková-Beblavá also says that the police need to communicate better. "At the moment the level of police communication isn't sufficient for people to be willing to trust them and take the risk involved in making a report," she said.

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