The primary duties of those who hold the office of constable are the protection of life and property, the preservation of the Queen’s peace, and the prevention and detection of criminal offences. To fulfil these duties police officers are granted extraordinary powers; the public and the police service therefore have the right to expect the highest standards of conduct from them.
This Code sets out the principles which guide police officers’ conduct. It does not seek to restrict officers’ discretion: rather, it aims to define the parameters of conduct within which that discretion should be exercised. However, it is important to note that any breach of the principles in this Code may result in action being taken by the organisation, which, in serious cases, could involve dismissal.
Police behaviour, whether on or off duty, affects public confidence in the police service. Any conduct which brings or is likely to bring discredit to the police service may be the subject of sanction. Accordingly, any allegation of conduct which could, if proved, bring or be likely to bring discredit to the police service should be investigated in order to establish whether or not a breach of the Code has occurred and whether formal disciplinary action is appropriate. No investigation is required where the conduct, if proved, would not bring or would not be likely to bring, discredit to the police service.
Standards of Professional Behaviour1
- Honesty and integrity
- Authority, Respect and Courtesy
- Equality and Diversity
- Use of force
- Orders and Instructions
- Duties and Responsibilities
- Fitness for Duty
- Discreditable Conduct
- Challenging and Reporting Improper Conduct
1. Honesty and integrity
Police officers are honest, act with integrity and do not compromise or abuse their position.
2. Authority, Respect and Courtesy
Police officers act with self-control and tolerance, treating members of the public and colleagues
with respect and courtesy.
Police officers do not abuse their powers or authority and respect the rights of all individuals.
3. Equality and Diversity
Police officers act with fairness and impartiality. They do not discriminate unlawfully or unfairly.
4. Use of force
Police officers only use force to the extent that it is necessary, proportionate and reasonable in all the circumstances.
5. Orders and Instructions
Police officers only give and carry out lawful orders and instructions.
Police officers abide by police regulations, force policies and lawful orders.
6. Duties and Responsibilities
Police officers are diligent in the exercise of their duties and responsibilities.
Police officers treat information with respect and access or disclose it only in the proper course of police duties.
8. Fitness for Duty
Police officers when on duty or presenting themselves for duty are fit to carry out their responsibilities.
9. Discreditable Conduct
Police officers behave in a manner which does not discredit the police service or undermine public confidence in it, whether on or off duty.
Police officers report any action taken against them for a criminal offence, any conditions imposed on them by a court or the receipt of any penalty notice.
10. Challenging and Reporting Improper Conduct
Police officers report, challenge or take action against the conduct of colleagues which has fallen below the Standards of Professional Behaviour.
1 See Schedule 2 to The Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012
Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.
External link: Code of Conduct for Police Officers (PDF, 32.5KB)
Author: North Yorkshire Police Federation
External link: The Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012 (PDF, 193KB)
Published: 22 November 2012
Author: HM Government