Policing - complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues: independent review

First independent review of complaint handling, misconduct and investigations since the creation of new policing structures in 2013. Dame Elish Angiolini reviewed the effectiveness of the new systems for dealing with complaints against the police, how well complaints are investigated and the processes involved.

Annex F - Police Scotland Code of Ethics

Code of Ethics for policing in Scotland

This Code of Ethics for Policing in Scotland sets out the standards expected of all of those who contribute to policing in Scotland. This is neither a discipline code nor an unattainable aspirational tool.

Rather this Code is a practical set of measures, which reflect the values of the Police Service of Scotland. We are all responsible for delivering a professional policing service to all people across the country. This Code sets out both what the public can expect from us and what we should expect from one another.


I recognise my role in policing as being a symbol of public faith and trust and the obligation this places upon me to act with integrity, fairness and respect.

I shall behave in a way which reflects the values of policing in Scotland.

I understand I am personally responsible for my own actions and will appropriately exercise my discretion.

I shall act as a positive role model in delivering a professional, impartial service, placing service to communities before my personal aims.

I will not accept any gift or gratuity that could, or could be perceived to, compromise my impartiality.

I shall avoid all behaviour, which is or may be reasonably considered as abusive, bullying, harassing or victimising.

I will demonstrate and promote good conduct and I will challenge the conduct of colleagues where I reasonably believe they have fallen below the standards set out in this Code.


I will act with courage and composure and shall face all challenges with self-control, tolerance and impartiality.

I will promote a positive wellbeing within the community and service and ensure that all people have fair and equal access to police services according to their needs.

I shall maintain an open attitude and continue to improve my understanding and awareness of cultural, social and community issues.

I will carry out my duties in a fair manner, guided by the principles of impartiality and non-discrimination.


I take pride in working as part of a team dedicated to protecting people.

I will show respect for all people and their beliefs, values, cultures and individual needs.

I will have respect for all human dignity as I understand that my attitude and the way I behave contributes to the consent communities have for policing.

I will respect and uphold the law in order to maintain public confidence and, by enhancing my personal knowledge and experience, contributing to the professional development of policing.

I shall treat all people, including detained people, in a humane and dignified manner.

I shall ensure that my relationships with colleagues is based on mutual respect and understanding and shall, therefore, conduct all communications on that basis.

Human Rights

I shall ensure my actions and policing operations respect the human rights of all people and officers whilst understanding that I will also enjoy these same human rights.

I will not undertake high-risk activities or use force other than where strictly necessary in order to attain a legitimate objective and only after I have balanced all the competing priorities I am aware of. (Article 2)

I will not encourage, instigate or tolerate any act of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment under any circumstance nor will I stand by and allow others to do the same. I understand that the humane treatment of prisoners is an essential element of policing and that the dignity of all those I am trusted to care for remains my responsibility. (Article 3)

I understand that people have an equal right to liberty and security. Accordingly, I will not deprive any person of that liberty, except in accordance with the law. (Article 5)

I will investigate crimes objectively and be sensitive to the particular needs of affected individuals whilst following the principle that everyone who is the subject of criminal investigation is innocent until found guilty by a court. (Article 6)

In carrying out my duties I shall respect everyone's fundamental rights. I will only interfere with privacy or family life when I am legally authorized to do so. (Article 8)

I will respect individual freedoms of thought, conscience or religion, expression, peaceful assembly, movement and the peaceful enjoyment of possessions. (Articles 9,10,11)


Email: ian.kernohan@gov.scot

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