The Professional Standards Department (PSD) is responsible for the investigation of all public complaints, whether they are made about Police Officers, Police Staff or Special Constables.

In addition, they investigate the more serious allegations of misconduct involving police officers and special constables. And as well as dealing with complaints, the PSD also accept and pass on commendations.

Standards of professional behaviour

On 1st December 2008 new Police Officer Standards of Professional Behaviour were introduced throughout England and Wales.

The Standards reflect the expectation that the police service and our local communities have of how police officers should act whether on or off duty.  Public confidence in the police depends upon police officers and police staff demonstrating the highest level of personal professional standards of behaviour.

The Standards cover:

  • honesty and integrity
  • authority, respect and courtesy
  • equality and diversity
  • use of force
  • orders and instructions
  • duties and responsibilities
  • confidentiality
  • fitness for duty
  • discreditable conduct
  • challenging and reporting improper conduct

The Standards outlined above enable everybody to know what type of conduct by a police officer or member of police staff is acceptable.  If you believe that the conduct of a police officer or police staff member is unacceptable, we would invite you to make contact with us.

Code of Ethics

The College of Policing developed the Code of Ethics on behalf of every member of the policing profession of England and Wales. The work was carried out by the College’s Integrity Programme in association with the national policing leads for Ethics and Professional Standards and a wide range of key stakeholders, including Chief Constables, PCCs, oversight bodies, staff associations and trade unions, and police practitioners.

The College of Policing has issued the Code of Ethics as a code of practice under section 39A of the Police Act 1996 (as amended by section 124 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014).

The aim of this Code of Ethics is to support each member of the policing profession to deliver the highest professional standards in their service to the public and is a Code of Practice for the Principles and Standards of Professional Behaviour for the Policing Profession of England and Wales.

The College of Policing has arrived at nine policing principles which are built on the Nolan principles for public life, with the addition of 'Fairness' and 'Respect'.

The nine policing principles are:

  • accountability
  • integrity
  • openness
  • fairness
  • leadership
  • respect
  • honesty
  • objectivity
  • selflessness

These principles underpin and strengthen the existing procedures and regulations for ensuring standards of professional behaviour for both police officers and police staff.

This gives the profession and the public the confidence that there is a system in place to respond appropriately if anyone believes that the expectations of the Code of Ethics have not been met.

Breaches of the Code of Ethics will not always involve misconduct or require disciplinary proceedings.

Breaches will range from relatively minor shortcomings in conduct, performance or attendance through to gross misconduct and corruption.

Different procedures exist according to the type of unprofessional behaviour or misconduct alleged.