Police ethics and integrity: breaking the blue code of silence

Westmarland, Louise (2005). Police ethics and integrity: breaking the blue code of silence. Policing and Society, 15(2) pp. 145–165.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10439460500071721


This article analyzes evidence from a survey of police officers who were asked about their attitudes towards police corruption, unethical behaviour and minor infringements of police rules. It reveals that most of the officers who took part in the study regard certain actions, such as those involving the acquisition of goods or money, as much worse than behaviour involving illegal brutality or bending of the rules in order to protect colleagues from criminal proceedings. It also reveals that officers who responded to the survey are relatively unwilling to report unethical behaviour by colleagues unless there is some sort of acquisitive motive or outcome predicted. Overall the findings support the existence of cultural 'blue code' and 'Dirty Harry' beliefs systems surrounding police rule bending, but also provide an initial study of a small sample (n=275) that point to the value of further investigation.

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