Committee calls for new police code of ethics and integrity

01 July 2013

The Home Affairs Committee publishes its report 'Leadership and standards in the police' (Third Report, Session 2013-14, HC 67-I).


After a six month inquiry the Committee concluded that:

  • Policing standards should be unified for the first time, at every level from constable to chief constable with all new officers required to obtain a Certificate of Knowledge in Policing. The College of Policing must produce a new Code of Ethics and Integrity for police officers. Guidance issued by the College should be binding and Chiefs who do not follow them should be subject to fines and disciplinary proceedings.
  • Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary should hold the new Chief Constables’ register of interests. In addition, it should also hold a national register of Police and Crime Commissioners' interests and financial details. A register of dismissed officers should be held by the College of Policing. Each force should hold a register of hospitality received by all its officers and must publish details of misconduct hearings on its website.
  • The College must establish a scale of fines which should be docked from officers pensions in cases of the most grave misconduct. Officers who are dismissed by one force, or who retire to avoid disciplinary proceedings, must not be allowed to resume service with another. Nor should officers be able to see retirement as a "get out of jail free card" for misconduct.
  • Responsibility for leading systemic and standards investigations should be transferred to HMIC for all historic investigations covering multiple forces or the IPCC for all other failings investigations, which will give the public confidence in an independent investigation and free senior officers to do the tasks they should be doing.
  • Diversity has for too long been given lip service but not acted upon in the police service and the law should be changed to allowed for positive action.

Chair's comments

Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, said:

"Broken systems of accountability and a patchwork of police standards and training, have allowed a minority of police officers to get away with corruption and incompetence which is blighting an otherwise excellent service with dedicated officers. The recent allegations of police spying on the Lawrence family and the bugging of Duwayne Brooks, and other activities of undercover officers have shocked the public.

The days of Dixon of Dock Green are over. The new landscape of policing requires a new type of police officer ready to meet the new challenges. Honesty, integrity and transparency are essential components of the policing DNA.

Every police recruit must be required to achieve a standard Certificate of Knowledge in Policing. The oath of policing should be equivalent to the Hippocratic Oath in which the public has unshakable confidence in the probity of its officers. The College of Policing must develop a Code of Ethics and HMIC needs to hold registers on interests, both of Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners. All details of misconduct must be published on forces' websites.

There are currently at least eight exceptional investigations underway as a result of police failings and integrity issues which so far have cost the taxpayer over £23million pounds, with nearly 300 officers yet have resulted in only 5 convictions. The police should not be investigating the police. HMIC and the IPCC need to lead these investigations; 'double-hatting' Chief Constables simply cannot give them the time required.

It is 14 years since the MacPherson inquiry and it is shameful that there is not a single BAME Chief Constable today. To deal with 21st century crimes, such as terrorism, we need a force that reflects 21st century Britain."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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