Committee hears new evidence on police integrity

14 January 2013

The Home Affairs Select Committee hear the results of the first national study to question significant numbers of police officers about their ethics and morals

The new Paper, by Dr Louise Westmarland of the Open University and Professor Mike Rowe at Northumbria University, will be presented this morning at the Home Affairs Select Committee International Conference on leadership and standards in the police.

Police Integrity Feedback Report; Dr Louise Westmarland,  Open University, Milton Keynes, 2013

The Report is published today and available on the Open University website.


  • Officers seem uncertain of the rules and regulations covering their behaviour, especially at the lower end of the spectrum. Officers were not clear about the bending of rules covering "minor" offences such as working in their spare time and accepting free drinks or small gifts.
  • Where officers were certain that behaviour was against force policy or rules, even in cases they thought were "serious", they were often unwilling or unlikely to report colleagues’ improper conduct, although this varied by force area and years of service.
  • Officers thought misdemeanours—such as using excessive force on a captive suspect or covering up for a drink driving colleague who caused an accident—were less serious behaviours than stealing property, such as a watch, or cash from a lost wallet.

Chair's comments

Committee Chair Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP said:

“We have the best police force in the world. We all expect our police officers to uphold the highest standards of integrity, but this startling research shows how for many the line between right and wrong is indeed blurred.

It is also apparent that for some officers, the sense of proportion has gone wrong: use of inappropriate force and cover ups are completely unacceptable for officers of the law.

The police service is undergoing significant reform, with the new College of Policing and a tough new Chief Inspector of Constabulary—it must take this opportunity to make sure that our expectations for officers’ conduct are clearly established and upheld”

Committee inquiry: Leadership and standards in the police service 

Image: iStockphoto

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