Getting behind the blue curtain: managing police integrity

Rowe, Michael; Westmarland, Louise and Hougham, Courtney (2015). Getting behind the blue curtain: managing police integrity. In: Lister, Stuart and Rowe, Michael eds. Accountability of Policing. Routledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice. London: Routledge, pp. 69–85.



This chapter explores emerging strategies designed to reduce police officer corruption and malfeasance. Codes of ethical conduct, disciplinary measures, cultural programmes, training and professionalisation of policing have developed in response to various challenges to police integrity. It also explores each of these drawing on international examples. The chapter considers how they operate in relation to dominant police subcultural values of loyalty and camaraderie that have often amounted to a 'blue curtain' that prevents officers reporting concerns about the misconduct of their colleagues. It outlines some changes to the nature of challenges to police integrity that have featured in recent debates about accountability and police integrity. A recurrent challenge to police accountability is that a great deal of policing is conducted in conditions of low visibility and therefore relatively difficult for managers or leaders to interrogate. Finally, the chapter concludes that responses to misconduct by police have developed in useful ways, significant challenges remain.

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