College Papers

Sir be effective. Even though these nine principles

Sir Robert Peel, the founder of
modern police culture, stated, “Police
seek and preserve public favour not by catering to the public opinion but by
constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.” (Nazemi
2015. PP5)

In 1829 Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850), established
the Metropolitan Police Force in London and developed the Peelian Principles
which defined the ethical requirements police officers must follow to be
effective. Even though these nine principles detailed in Appendix 1 were
written close to 200 years ago, they are as much applicable today as they were
then. The approach expressed in these principles is commonly known as ‘Policing
by Consent’. In the United Kingdom this model of policing regards officers as
citizens in uniform. They exercise their powers to police their fellow citizens
with the implicit consent of those fellow citizens. ‘Policing by consent’
indicates that the legitimacy of policing in the eyes of the public is based
upon a general consensus of support that follows from transparency about their
powers, their integrity in exercising those powers and their accountability for
doing so. This paper will therefore examine ethics in more detail to give one a
better understanding of the expectations and ethical issues facing police
officers today. It will explore the importance of police ethics relating to the
use of discretion in contemporary policing and will highlight that police
ethics and the use of discretion are of critical importance in the
professionalisation of policing and the best antidotes to police corruption,
brutality, neglect of human rights, and other forms of police deviance. (Neyroud
& Beckley 2001,)

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Ethics, also known as moral
philosophy provide the theoretical basis for the principles of moral behaviour
and sustain both the boundaries for morality and the pathways for proper
thinking about real life choices. Both ethics and morality are concerned with
the distinction between right and wrong. Ethics involves making moral judgments
about what is right or wrong, good or bad. Right and wrong are qualities or
moral judgments we assign to actions and conduct. Singer suggests “To live ethically is to think about things
beyond one’s own interests. When I think ethically I become just one being,
with needs and desires of my own, certainly, but living among others who also
have needs and desires”. Peter Singer (1995: 174). Immanuel Kant’s ethical
theories are built on the premise of duty and moral standards. It is the duty
of an individual to exhibit good morals and behave according to the
expectations of the society. Furthermore Kant’s theories distinguishes between
what is good and bad (Timmermann, 2007, p. 167).  Individuals have the decision to make choices
that are good to uphold the moral standards. Another important concept in
Kant’s theory is based on the goodwill of an individual.  This is what makes an individual make a
decision that is good or bad. The consequence of an act is not brought into
perspective, but the will or the motive behind the action is what matters.

This theory can therefore be
applied in the modern policing practices to ensure that police officers
function better by providing better services to the people (Timmermann, 2007,
p. 167).    Police will be able to make
appropriate decisions before taking an action to remedy a situation.  Police ethics can thus be perceived as a
systematic and continuous reflection on values and norms, or the systematic
reflection on morality.

Kolthoff posits that police ethics
are important because: “Given the nature
and far-reaching effects of police tasks and power, integrity in public service
is even more important for the police, who derive their social legitimacy from
citizen confidence. That is, both the citizenry and competent authorities in a
democracy must be able to place their confidence and trust in the integrity of
the police system, which, as the body charged with maintaining the law, is one
of the most important institutions for protecting the integrity of governance,
business, and the community” (Kolthoff, 2007, p. 46).

LaFollette, (2002) describes are
three identifiable branches in the study of ethics:

Metaethics, is concerned primarily with the
meaning of ethical judgements, and seeks to understand the nature of ethical
properties, statements, attitudes, and judgements and how they may be supported
or defended. A meta-ethical theory, does not attempt to evaluate specific
choices as being better, worse, good, bad or evil; rather it tries to define
the essential meaning and nature of the problem being discussed. Some theorists
argue that a metaphysical account of morality is necessary for the proper
evaluation of actual moral theories and for making practical moral decisions;
others reason from opposite premises and suggest that we must impart ideas of
moral intuition onto proper action before we can give a proper account of
morality’s metaphysics Applied Ethics is concerned with the analysis of
particular moral issues in private and public life, a discipline of philosophy
that attempts to apply ethical theory to real-life situations. Applied Ethics is much more ready to include
the insights of psychology, sociology and other relevant areas of
knowledge in its deliberations. It is used in determining public policy. Normative ethics, is the study of ethical action.
 It is the branch of philosophical ethics
that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how things
should or ought to be, how to value them, which things are good or bad, and
which actions are right or wrong. It attempts to develop a set of rules
governing human conduct, or a set of norms for action. Normative ethical
theories are usually split into three main categories: Consequentialism,
Deontology and Virtue Ethics:

According to Neyroud, the
relationship between ethics and the purpose of the organisation is critical to
any understanding of the ethical challenges in policing (Neyroud 2006),
therefore three branches of ethics can help police officers understand how
their judgments concerning discretion, force, and due process will be evaluated
by political, legal, and social institutions.

Policing is often considered a
career that is wrought with many ethical and moral complexities, creating a
landscape filled with many “grey” areas (Neyroud and Beckley 2001). The study
of police ethics is especially important in light of the functions and duties
of the police. Police officers act as agents of formal social control, giving
them the power to exert more influence and control on the lives of other people
(Walker, 1993). They use the law among a number of other resources to
facilitate the restoration of order and to impose symbolic justice. As a
profession, policing affords one the opportunity to act with little supervision
from others, yielding a significant amount of latitude in their decision-making
process. Police work often requires officers to make split-second decisions as
part of their daily functions. When in difficult situations, it’s essential to
have a solid moral compass governed by a strong understanding of ethical
principles. Police decisions can affect life, liberty, and property, and as
guardians of the interests of the public, police must maintain high standards
of integrity. By law, police are given the power to deprive citizens of their
freedom by arresting them and the right to use force in the performance of
their policing function, including lethal force in certain situations. The
police are therefore given great authority under the law, and that authority is
to be employed ideally in enforcing the law and protecting the public.

Ethical policing relies on a comprehensive integrated and dynamic ethical
framework of decision-making at strategic, operational and tactical levels
which is flexible and balanced enough to assist in converting declaratory
symbolism into real life ethical judgements. Discretion in law enforcement, and
especially within policing, is critical to both the functioning of the police
and necessary for efficiency in the criminal justice system. When the police
perform their official duties, there is a certain level of discretion they must
use. Depicted in Figure 1, The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)
developed six basic legal principles in order to guide discretion and promote
police compliance particularly with human rights. There has however been a
constant dilemma between enforcing the law to the latter and/or to the spirit
of the law. When in training, police officers are staged with different
possible scenarios that they may encounter when they are out on duty. However,
the situations presented are not exhaustive and no set of regulations can
address every possible circumstance, so police officers are given discretion to
decide which laws will be enforced, as well as when, where, and how. The laws
don’t cover all aspects and thus there are always new laws being put in place
allowing for the police officers to use discretion in the meantime. There are
also situations in which the law is ambiguous and the police officer will
disregard the various interpretations of the law and employ his or her
discretion in arriving at a decision (Rivera, 2006), therefore, individual and
institutional ethics become critical. Police discretion is usually put to use
when the officers are presented with many options to come up with one choice
they deem necessary depending on the situation at hand. Philosophers Ronald
Dworkin and H.L.A. Hart have referred to discretion as “the hole in the doughnut” (Dworkin, 1978, p. 31). Discretion is
the void in the middle of a ring consisting of policies and procedures.
However, police are not always supposed to exercise discretion. In some
instances, the law and departmental policies do limit or eliminate the
discretion altogether. Discretion is usually bound by certain norms including
professional, legal, social, and moral norms (Scott, 2009).

There are a number of advantages regarding
police discretion in the fact that it allows the officer to humanely treat
people, giving them a second chance, and improving on the public perception of
the police. If the police were to follow the laws to the latter, they will be
perceived to be unfair by the society and hence rejected (Rivera, 2006) Discretion
can also be said to promote autonomy in the sense that the cops and the
community at large are not enslaved by the written rules it promotes realistic
goals and takes into account the fact that the police are presented with unique
situations on the ground that requires personal judgment depending on the
situation. Fyfe (1996: 183) contends that police ought to enjoy some degree of
discretion, but like discretion in any profession, it can be justified only to
achieve a broadly agreed-upon purpose; in the case of the police, this purpose
is often hard to define. Some commentators argue that police discretion should
be limited so that, for example, the rules and regulations of the police and
ethical standards circumscribe that discretion. Reiman argues even more
radically that “police discretion has no rightful place in a free society” (Reiman
1996: 80). Others have argued that during discretion, Police don’t have the
slightest idea about what could be the consequences of their action and that
discretion is a potential tool for abuse that might result into potential
needless death and/or injury (Peak, 2009). Many argue that if police are
permitted wide discretion, a high level of accountability should match it, so
that processes and machinery exist to investigate complaints of misconduct or
abuse of discretion. REF Because of the
discretionary mistakes that are inevitably made by officers, attempts have been
made to control operational decision making among police officers (Butterfield,
Edwards, and Woodall, 2005). Lipsky (1980) notes that discretion has been
curtailed in regards to domestic assaults where police officers are encouraged
to charge offenders rather than informally resolve the situation. The issue of
police discretion has become an important public concern, for example, Lord
Scarman’s report on the 1981 riots in Brixton emphasized that “the exercise of discretion lies at the
heart of the policing function.”‘ The Scarman report led to a number
of changes in policing throughout England. The issue of police discretion
continued to be a critical issue during the Miners’ Strike of 1984, as there
were frequent challenges to the manner of police response to miners’ protest
activities. Enduring focus on the nature of police discretion in the English
criminal justice system was assured by the enactment of the Police and Criminal
Evidence Act 1984. The Act not only introduced new laws and procedures to deal
with criminal activities, but it established a system of greater police
accountability to achieve the proper balance between the investigative needs of
the police and the rights of citizens.

While police discretion is seen as
inevitable and essential, there remains an underlying fear that its exercise
may lead to arbitrary, corrupt or unethical behaviour.  An officer’s personal attributes and cultural
background may influence how they view certain crimes. Racist officers might
abuse the discretion aspect and make arrests on the basis of ethnic background.
The location of the crime also influences the police decision with crimes
committed in what has been classified as hot spots likely to result in arrests.
Arrests are most likely to happen in a more open society or a racially mixed
society since there is a high chance of crime based on the racial, economic
differences, and social disorder (Petheram, 2009).  In response legislative changes were introduced
with the aim of regulating police behaviour with the most recent being on the
15 July 2014 the College of Policing launched a ‘Code of Ethics’ which set out
nine policing principles and ten standards of professional behaviour was laid
as a code of practice before Parliament as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour,
Crime and Policing Act 2014. The Code of Ethics sets out the principles and
standards of behaviour that will promote, reinforce and support the highest
standards from everyone who works in policing in England and Wales Additionally
the code is designed to guide decision making for everyone in policing.
Combined with the standards of professional behaviour, the code will encourage
officers and staff to challenge those who fall short of the standards expected.
The principles set out in this Code of Ethics originate from the ‘Principles of
Public Life’ published by the Committee on Standards in Public Life in 1995, as
these continue to reflect public expectations. The Code includes the principles
of ‘fairness’ and ‘respect’ as research has shown these to be crucial to
maintaining and enhancing public confidence in policing. Police
ethics and a code of conduct were developed in response to corruption in
policing, as well as to address police function and service in the areas of
fairness, justice, and rightness and wrongness in the performance of duty.

Doing the right thing in policing means doing
your duty, doing what you are obligated to do. Those who serve as Police
Officers must be held to a higher moral standard than the general public
(Delattre 1996) and have a moral, ethical and a legal duty to do so. Given the
significance of police discretion for the allocation of justice it is crucial
to understand what determines routine choices officers make. Part of the answer
is to be in an understanding of the ethical beliefs and moral values that
officers hold towards their job, the law and the events and people they
confront on the street, Utilitarianism is a concept linked to the theory of
ethics which is often used to provide answers to basic questions such as how to
live or what to do. Utilitarianism holds that that action which is morally
correct is the one which produces the greatest good for the greatest number of
people. In its simplest form, utilitarianism states that in any situation where
there is a moral choice, the right thing to do is that which is likely to
produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people or the least
harm to the world as a whole. Therefore, everyone ought to obey the laws that
ensure the balance between the good for the individual and for the society as a
whole (Rhodes, 1986; Clark, 2000).Kant, when speaking of duty, refers to the
“categorical imperative” – a command that tells us what we ought to do, or
should do. Morality involves both fairness and equity. A similar common
perspective of morality exists in our society and proposes that one “do unto
others only as you would have them do unto you” (the Golden Rule). According to
Taoism, moral reasoning is the product of the mind that draws distinctions between
what is right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust. Police officers are
expected to be “autonomous moral agents,” persons who can make moral decisions
on the basis of personal values (ethics), independent of what other people may
believe. Through training they are expected to hold those values to be universally
true of their