Public and police perceptions of policing ethics

Pike, Graham; Westmarland, Louise; Conway, Steve and Rowe, Michael (2018). Public and police perceptions of policing ethics. In: 2018 Conference of the Society of Evidence Based Policing, 1-2 Mar 2018.


Integrity and ethics have been an important and very public aspect of contemporary policing, leading to the development and formulation of the 2014 Code of Ethics. Our research explores police ethics, and the challenges faced in implementing a new formal code, by analysing the implicit ideas and concepts of ethical behaviour (the ‘blue’ code) that evolve from police cultures and the day-to-day working of officers and staff. In addition, the 2014 Code uses public expectations to legitimise the particular formulation of the principles employed, which raises interesting questions regarding what the public do expect from the police. By comparing the explicit Code of Ethics to cultures of behaviour and the expectations of the public, our research reveals areas where the formal Code might deviate from existing attitudes and practice, and that could prove to be particularly problematic for implementing the new code.

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