Abuse of power

An abuse of power offence is committed where a person in public office misuses her/his power so as to benefit herself/himself or someone else. 


  • A procurement official working for the public highways agency improperly ensures that the highways agency awards a contract to a construction company which is secretly owned by him.
  • A public official in charge of running a project by-passes the normal employment procedures in order to appoint a family member or friend to a senior project management position.
  • A government minister hopes to benefit corruptly from a project by demanding bribes for the award of project contracts. Consequently, he requires his staff to suppress a feasibility report which concludes that the project should not go ahead.

Avoiding abuse of power:

If you are a public official, always act honestly and objectively in the best interests of the government.  Never act in your personal interest. 

Do not (whether or not you are a public official) participate in or facilitate an abuse of power.  For example, if you are a contract manager of a supplier, and a public official awards a contract to that supplier without a competitive tender in breach of procurement regulations, you could be liable for facilitating the public official’s abuse of power if you allow the supplier to accept the improper award. 

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June 2022