The Code of Ethics: Definition and Purpose

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 4
Words: 869
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College


In any contemporary democratic society, police roles remain a critical component in ensuring a safe environment. The role of police officers in realizing this goal is undoubted. Law enforcers must maintain principles and standards as they implement their duties. In simple terms, the “code of ethics” constitutes the norms, doctrines, and values of behavior governing human beings and organizational actions (Peng, 2008).

Other literature states that ethics denotes a body of moral necessities and prescriptions that standardize professional conduct (Committee of Ministers, Council of Europe 2002). The code of ethics, therefore, provides the foundation or a structure to guide enforcement. Police officers ought to exercise their mandate in a way that does not breach moral values. The civic confidence in the police force is practicable when officers’ dealings reveal consistency, equality, and certainty in handling their operations towards preventing crime.

The responsibilities of the rule enforcement agencies in a social equality setting show the need for a code of ethics. While conducting their work, the police officers experience principled challenges. These situations make them ineffective concerning expectations to abide by the regulations.

In a culture where the tenets of law apply, police agencies embark on the habitual duties of preventing, fighting, dealing with planned crimes, humanity service, ensuring there is harmony, protecting the privilege of everyone to freedom, integrity, and justice (Banks 2004). Individuals who disregard the professional values of moral conduct get a notice asking them to quit the service. This is because no police officer should desert customary principles in the quest to meet their self-interests (Baker 2010). Most “code of ethics” spells out the repercussions when officers do not comply with the code.

“Why Code of Ethics is required within Police Agencies”

It is worthwhile to note that a “code of ethics” is fundamental in police agencies for particular reasons. A well-publicized set of laws for police agencies outlines the regular principles, purposes, and morals that promote civic confidence. This enhances the ultimate superior open relationship between the force and the public, which is necessary for cooperation (Committee of Ministers, Council of Europe 2002).

A clear guideline on the boundaries of police work also helps the police to avoid unnecessary condemnation from the community in case of failure to respond to certain problems. Additionally, police “code of conduct” is exceptionally critical for use as a temporary regulatory tool for streamlining the structure of the agency. The set of laws achieves this when used for full quality administration systems, provide direction, ensure transparency, responsibility, and conflict resolution within the force.

The police ethics recommends top practice for the agency. It becomes a tool for traditional routine, habitual familiar ethical behavior. In an independent state, the law demands that citizens who formulate, arbitrate, and effect the by-law must themselves, be subjects to a similar law.

The standard “code of ethics” regulates the relations in the agencies between bosses and their subordinates. This is useful as procedures taken by senior police can only be reasonable and lawful, to avoid hurting the junior officers. Ethics also explains some of the “DO’s and DONT’s” to the law enforcers. For example, police officers’ “code of conduct” does not authorize them to join politics or take sides by being loyal to certain political parties.

Through the “moral code of conduct”, there is no association involving the police and political powers (Banks, 2004). The principled values also require officers to assume neutrality to opinionated institutions. The police codes help the officers to use justifiable physical force. The ethical standards provide each law enforcer with the discretion to make decisions on the genuine use of corporal force. In this case, the code of conduct will enable every police officer to adopt the most efficient and valid decision.

The rules require that personnel sustain assured levels of conduct. They must utilize police property with care thus curbing needless damage to such items. This is because; the resources are tenable using taxpayers’ money. The code also provides for a distinct dress code for officers who have a responsibility to obey (Council of Europe 2007).

Such a code also provides for confidentiality, which requires the officers to maintain confidentiality as pertains to anything they see, hear, or learn in the course of their work. For example, they have to react urgently to the public needs. Whenever they do this, they might gather some critical information that they only need to divulge to the right people, mainly their authorities. Police officers must carry out their work with integrity, for example, they ought to shun bribes, avoid corrupt dealings, must not take offerings and presents that affect their duties (Raines, 2010).


From the ongoing discussions, it is primary to recognize what the “code of ethics” and its purpose in the police force entail. It is also vital to appreciate that, contravening the code of ethics is punishable in the court of law and may result in firing.

The role of police in ensuring order in culture is paramount. It is vital in the police force because it ensures law enforcers perform to the standards anticipated of them by the public. The question is whether the police officers will be able to adhere to their professional “code of ethics”.


Baker, E. (2010). Effective Police Leadership: Moving Beyond Management. 2nd Ed. New York, NY: Looseleaf Law Publications.

Banks, C. (2004). Criminal Justice Ethics: Theory and Practice. California, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Committee of Ministers, Council of Europe. (2002). The European Code of Police Ethics: Recommendation Rec (2001)10 and Explanatory Memorandum. Strasbourg: Council of Europe publishing.

Council of Europe. (2007). Police Ethics in a Democratic Society: Multilateral Meeting. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

Peng, W. (2008). Global Strategy. 2nd Ed. Ohio, OH: Cengage Learning.

Raines, J. (2010). Ethics in Policing: Misconduct and Integrity. Massachusetts, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.