The College of Policing (COP) has launched a new Code of Ethics which sets out the professional behaviours that the public can expect to see from officers, staff and volunteers.
The COP says the 2024 Code of Ethics “supports everyone in policing to deliver a service that is fair, ethical and can be trusted to make decisions in the interest of keeping people safe.”
The new Code of Ethics is split into two parts, neither of which are statutory:
Ethical policing principles
Due to the nature of their work, everyone in policing has to make important decisions, some of which often raise complex ethical issues because they impact other people, often at difficult times in their lives.
The COP says “the ethical policing principles are a series of guiding statements that should be used to help people in policing do the right things, in the right way, for the right reasons.”
The ethical policing principles are designed to help officers, staff and volunteers deliver an honourable and legitimate police service; earn the public’s confidence and trust; and uphold the integrity of the policing profession.
Guidance for ethical and professional behaviour in policing
The guidance for ethical and professional behaviour in policing outlines expectations for how policing professionals should behave in a way that makes it easy for them to understand and follow, helping to put the ethical policing principles into day-to-day practice.
It covers areas such as relationships, human rights, wellness and wellbeing, social media and instant messgaing use and more.
Why has the Code of Ethics changed?
When the 2014 Code of Ethics was introduced, it was issued as a statutory Code of Practice for chief officers. As a result, the COP says there was some confusion “regarding the strength and standing of its application across policing.”
The new Code of Ethics — which is the result of public consultation and input from serving police officers, police staff, academics, staff associations and representatives from partner organisations — is designed to be inclusive and provide support for everyone in policing.
New Code of Ethics ‘complements force values’
Nikki Mayo, Lincolnshire Police’s ACC for Crime, said the new Code of Ethics complements the force’s own culture and values.
“We have a responsibility to ourselves and the communities we serve to make sure we act ethically at all times. We are pleased to support the new Code of Ethics and will be embedding them across the force to ensure they are values that are lived by everyone across the organisation.”Nikki Mayo, Lincolnshire Police’s ACC for Crime
Reacting to the release of the new Code of Ethics, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) said that, while the revised code is important for strengthening public confidence in policing, there are “serious gaps” which have been overlooked.
One such gap, the PFEW said, is the new Code of Ethics is missing crucial guidance on how behaviour that does not uphold policing principles or meet expected standards should be handled.
For similar articles, check out our Leadership channel.