4 Code of Ethics |
44. The Policing Code of Ethics, which was laid before
Parliament in July 2014, is the written guide to the principles
that every member of the policing profession of England and Wales
is expected to uphold and the standards of behaviour they are
expected to meet. It applies to more than 220,000 officers, police
staff, contractors and volunteers working in policing. It sets
out the standards of behaviour that the public can expect from
officers and staff at every role and at every level and will help
guide decision making. As Alex Marshall told us, "a code
of ethics or conduct is used in all the serious professions".
The Code brings policing into line with other trusted professions
that have such codes, such as medicine and the law.
Dame Shirley thought that the Code would give officers greater
confidence to use their judgement on the front-line, and to challenge
inappropriate behaviour, "particularly upwards".
45. The College also maintains the "Disapproved
Register" of all officers who have resigned whilst facing
gross misconduct charges or been dismissed for gross misconduct,
to ensure that they should not be re-employed.
Figure 2, below, shows the number of officers dismissed in each
year since 2002-03 which, it will be noted, has amounted in each
year to fewer than 1.5 officers per 1,000.Figure
2: Dismissed Officers
Source: An Independent Review of the Police Disciplinary
System in England and Wales
46. Whereas the Code is maintained by the College,
arrangements for disciplining (or deciding whether or not to discipline)
officers who break the Code rest with individual forces. The Police
Service of Northern Ireland first introduced a Code of Ethics
in 2003, under the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000. Sir Hugh
Orde, who was Chief Constable of the PSNI at the time, told us
that it was a requirement of the Northern Ireland Code that any
allegation of conduct which could, if proved, constitute a breach
of the Code had to be investigated. He also explained that in
the PSNI every officer had two days' training on the code, and
were then handed their own copy which they signed.
47. Dame Shirley explained that the College's attitude
was rather different. The Code was "a set of principles that
help to guide [officers'] behaviour" and a degree of latitude
was required so that people could use the code to learn "without
their feeling that a ton of bricks will come down on them"
if they made a mistake. Only when sufficient deviation from the
principles in the Code was alleged should misconduct proceedings
come into play. Dame Shirley concluded that
All the evidence
shows that codes of ethics
work well where they are continually referred to and used, where
they are the discussion around the water cooler.
48. We welcome the introduction of the Policing
Code of Ethics, which must now be embedded across the country.
We recommend that the policing principles set out in the Code
are integrated into the training outcomes it sets, so that they
are underpinned repeatedly over the course of a police officer's
career. The Code of Ethics needs to be in the DNA of police officers,
so a policing Hippocratic Oath is required. We recommend that
everybody who is bound by the Code should be required to acknowledge
it formally by signing a copy of the Code and swearing an oath
to the Queen. For new police constables, a reference to the Code
could be incorporated into the declaration they make when they
are attested (though this would require a change to the law).
49. We recommend that the Code of Ethics also
incorporate the disciplinary code. It has been argued that if
someone breaks the Code of Ethics, they will also have broken
a separate disciplinary measure; we believe that this link should
be explicit. We recommend that the College of Policing follows
the example of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and incorporates
the policing discipline code into the Code of Ethics, so that
if it is breached this automatically triggers an investigation.
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