Code of Ethics for everyone in policing

​A Code of Ethics which applies to more than 220,000 officers and police staff has received thousands of responses during a public consultation.

Almost 3,400 responses came into our Integrity Team from the public, police forces, Police and Crime Commissioners and others.

The code is intended to provide a clear, concise and accessible outline of the standards of professional behaviour and integrity that the public can expect every time they have contact with the police. Similar documents are in place for other professions, such as doctors.

It will be at the heart of all future recruitment, training and career development for everyone working in policing, and is one part of our commitment to professionalise policing.

We have regularly acknowledged the high levels of integrity that already exist in the service. Officers and staff have contact with millions of people every year which, when balanced with the number of complaints, shows integrity is already in the DNA of policing. The code intends to build on that.

College of Policing Integrity Lead, Assistant Chief Constable at Cambridgeshire Police, Karen Daber, said:

"The code will play a practical role in guiding behaviour and we have given examples of how it can help officers and staff to do their job.

"It will also set out for, for the first time, what the public can expect from a professional police service."

The code is just one part of our Integrity Programme, which is also developing the first-ever national "struck off list" of officers who are dismissed from the service for gross misconduct. It will also apply to those who leave prior to the conclusion of a gross misconduct hearing.

In addition, a public register of all chief officers' pay, gifts and hospitality and any outside business interests will also go live this year. 

Both registers are being created to increase transparency in policing, which will in turn increase public confidence in the service. A vetting code of practice for all prospective employees in the service and those seeking senior promotion is also in development.

Following the consultation, police forces will be sent an amended copy of the code next month before final changes are made when legislation is passed in the summer. 

Dr Katerina Hadjimatheou, who works on the ethics of criminal justice (especially police ethics) at the University of Warwick, wrote a blog earlier this month entitled A Code of Police Ethics for our times. In it. she said:

"Most of us don't need reminding to respect people, to refrain from unnecessary violence, or to turn up to work when we're not sick. But most of us are not subject to the demands and pressures that are inherent to police work. Police have to demonstrate more compassion and understanding, bravery, selflessness and self-restraint than the rest of us do, just to maintain the same standards."

ACC Daber added:

"Dr Hadjimatheou is absolutely right and we must not forget the exceptional demands that are placed on us every minute of the day. The code is about ensuring we can assist and guide officers to do the right thing in the right way."

This article appears in the January 2014 edition of our newsletter.

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