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The Code of Ethics' FAQs

The Code of Ethics' frequently asked questions. 

  • Q:

    What is the Code of Ethics?

    A:

    The Code of Ethics 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 is the first time these principles and standards of behaviour have been set out in a single document. The Code of Ethics is intended to be used on a day-to-day basis to guide behaviour and decision-making. The Code of Ethics has been written 'by' policing 'for' policing.

  • Q:

    Who exactly does the Code of Ethics apply to?

    A:

    The Code of Ethics applies directly to the police forces maintained for the police areas of England and Wales defined in section 1 of the Police Act 1996, and to the College of Policing.

  • Q:

    The Code of Ethics for policing specifically applies to:

    A:

    •police officers •police staff •police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and those with designated police powersmembers of the Special Constabulary and other police volunteers •members of the College of Policing (the professional body for policing) •police officers and staff seconded to another force or policing agency, or on overseas deployment •police officers and staff seconded from another force or agency, or from an international policing jurisdiction •police health professionals •individuals and organisations that provide policing services on a temporary basis (eg, academics, consultants, trainers, private sector companies) •police officers and staff on career breaks •those who are considering joining the police service •those who have entered into a collaboration agreement with the police service (e.g. under police collaboration provisions in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011) •other police forces or agencies in the UK may also wish to adopt the Code of Ethic

  • Q:

    Why do police need a Code of Ethics?

    A:

    The Code of Ethics will play a practical role in guiding the behaviour of everyone in policing, rather than being something that is only turned to later when unprofessional behaviour crosses the threshold into misconduct. The emphasis is on what good policing looks like and how ethical police officers and staff behave, rather than on managing misconduct.

  • Q:

    What do officers and police staff get out of the Code of Ethics?

    A:

    The Code of Ethics is based on nine policing principles and 10 standards of professional behaviour that will help everyone in policing to do the right thing in the right way. It spells out what the profession expects of all officers, staff and others working in policing, and has practical examples for everyone to use daily. It reminds people that unprofessional behaviour damages the reputation of the police. The Code of Ethics makes it clear that unprofessional behaviour must not be condoned, tolerated or ignored. And that officers and staff have a duty to challenge those whose behaviour falls short of the Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics will be used by forces and the College to underpin and enhance existing integrity and accountability arrangements.

  • Q:

    What do members of the public get out of the Code of Ethics?

    A:

    The public must be able to trust the police to be competent and to act ethically. The Code of Ethics allows them to assess what they should expect from the police - not just warranted officers but every single person in the profession. The Code of Ethics is about professionalising the service, giving those within it a clear guide on ethical decision-making and behaviour. In dealing with millions of incidents every year (that add up to tens of millions of "contacts" with the public), officers and police staff already demonstrate many of the principles and standards set out in the Code of Ethics. The public recognise the good work that the vast majority do, but sometimes the behaviour of those in the service is not what is expected. The Code of Ethics will encourage the public to demand the highest standards from the police.

  • Q:

    Why is there such an emphasis on challenging and taking action against unprofessional behaviour?

    A:

    To maintain public trust and confidence in the police, every person in policing must take responsibility for ensuring that the principles and standards in the Code of Ethics are not being betrayed. The Code of Ethics sets a positive obligation for everyone to challenge or report behaviour that does not meet the expectations set out in the Code of Ethics. When a force or policing organisation makes it okay for people to report unprofessional behaviour, they are empowering people to stand up for what they believe in and demonstrate their personal integrity. Challenging and taking action against unprofessional behaviour also has an effect on organisational integrity, because it helps ensure consistent behaviour across the whole policing profession.