The link was not copied. Your current browser may not support copying via this button.
Link copied successfully
Explore our diverse range of digital textbooks designed for course adoption and recommended reading at universities and colleges. We publish over 140 textbooks across the social sciences, and an annual subscription to digital textbooks is possible via BUP Digital.
Our content is fully searchable and can be accessed on and off-campus through Shibboleth, OpenAthens or an institutional authenticated IP. For any questions on digital textbook pricing and subscription information, please contact email@example.com.
We are happy to provide digital samples of any of our coursebooks by completing this form. To see the full collection of all our core textbooks, browse our main website.
Given the topic, I do not feel that a conclusion is appropriate. The book deals with issues that have remained unresolved for centuries so I do not expect to resolve them here. I have consciously avoided an approach to police ethics that seeks to get the philosophy bit out of the way as quickly as possible. My intention has been to slow things down, to take more time over the philosophical points and recognise that so much more needs to be done. So I will simply summarise the different ideas that I have covered in the book before suggesting ideas for future developments.
Hopefully the development of the journey from ethical neutrality, through principled policing, deontology, justice as fairness, consequentialism and virtue ethics is seen as one that progresses and constructs an increasingly nuanced understanding of ethical policing. Each chapter has sought to build on the previous one to establish an understanding of ethical policing that takes different elements from each ethical perspective considered, with a focus throughout on the role that moral philosophy can play in enhancing our understanding of policing. This is particularly significant in thinking about ethical policing. The approach I am advocating is one that embeds moral reasoning within police practice, as opposed to an applied model that either interprets policing through ethical theories, or illustrates ethical theories with policing examples. My aim is primarily for our understanding of policing to be deepened through philosophical enquiry, although this can also develop our understanding of philosophical questions more broadly.
In earlier chapters I have argued that principles play an important role in shaping ethical policing by providing enduring values that need to be given due weight when considering an appropriate course of action. However, I have also argued that principles can become unhelpful to police officers if and when they become morally binding obligations. Likewise, I have stressed the importance of consequences in ethical policing, but at the same time cautioned against too great a focus on the ends without due consideration of how appropriate and proportionate the means are. I continue with these lines of argument in this chapter by considering insights from an Aristotelian-inspired virtue ethics, and the contemporary influence this has upon ethical reasoning (Crisp and Slote, 1997). In particular, I will draw upon Anscombe’s (1958) criticisms of what she sees as the shared legalistic morality of both deontology and utilitarianism. The renewed interest in virtue ethics is presented by Anscombe (1958) as a remedy to what she sees as diminished ethical thinking as a consequence of this legalistic characteristic of modern moral debate.
I use virtue ethics to re-emphasise a bottom-up approach (Marks and Sklansky, 2008) to understanding ethical policing. I argue that the focus on virtues fosters and supports ethical policing because of the extent to which it embodies ethical reasoning in moral agents, who are placed within professional contexts. Within professional contexts, virtue ethics are not to be established at the top of the organisation and cascaded down through the workforce, but are rather embedded within the ethical reasoning practised by officers across different policing contexts.
The aim of this chapter is to establish what I mean by the term ethical policing. I will emphasise the importance of moral agency and the ability of police officers to reason, and in doing so hope to provide a flavour of the philosophical approach adopted in the book. Although the writing requires engagement with abstract ideas and technical concepts, it is nonetheless always being directed towards appreciating how ethical policing can be understood within and through police practices. Above all else, I hope to avoid any confusion that leads to an assumption that ethical policing is somehow idealistic fantasy unconnected to real police work. Likewise, I do not want to give the impression that there is in any sense a tension or contradiction between ethical policing and effective or good policing. The idea of ethical policing I am presenting is at the same time a view of what is good policing: good policing is necessarily ethical, and ethical policing is necessarily good.
Policing is not normally discussed in such moral terms, despite the inherently contested nature of police work (Wright, 2002; Reiner, 2015). Indeed, until fairly recently policing was assumed to be ethically neutral (Uglow, 1988; Alderson, 1998). Likewise, police officers tend to see their work more comfortably in legal as opposed to moral terms. I appreciate that this means challenging the way policing is normally approached but my central argument is that if we are to take the idea of ethical policing seriously, then we need to recognise the importance of seeing police officers as moral agents (MacIntyre, 2004), with a considerable degree of moral responsibility attached to their role as public officials.
It is not the fault of any creed, but of the complicated nature of human affairs, that rules of conduct cannot be so framed as to require no exceptions … There exists no moral system under which there do not arise unequivocal cases of conflicting obligation. (Mill, 1863/1973, p.427)
So far, I have focused on moral values and principles as they shape the way we think about ethical policing. Starting with a focus on such values in this way reflects the extent to which police ethics are increasingly dominated by deontological human rights considerations. But this is not without its problems. There are, as Mill (1863/1973) observes, inherent difficulties in establishing a meaningful moral blueprint for society, and in this chapter I shift the focus away from an abstract understanding of a police officer’s moral obligations by introducing greater emphasis on the highly pragmatic nature of police work.
Policing operates in ‘dirty’ situations (Klockars, 1980; Delattre, 2011) and under conditions that are simply not conducive to ethical reasoning in any pure sense. From the perspective of a police officer, a Kantian-inspired deontology or a Rawlsian sense of justice as fairness might appear somewhat removed from the rough and tumble of operational policing. Likewise, human rights thinking might seem to be primarily concerned with the way things should be ideally, but perhaps less useful when dealing with things as they are in reality. This certainly captures the view that the police deal with the dysfunctional chaos on the periphery of normal society, where social norms and values have a significantly diminished presence and influence.
The primary aim of this chapter is to consider the role that principles play within ethical policing. I will introduce two contrasting ethical approaches to policing:
one that establishes principles at the heart of policing;
one that favours ethical neutrality as the most appropriate policing strategy.
I will refer to the first approach as principled policing and the second as liberal policing in recognition of two important texts that help frame this chapter. The first text is John Alderson’s Principled Policing published in 1998, which, as the title suggests, champions an approach to policing that is informed and shaped explicitly by moral priorities. The second text, which represents a liberal ideal of policing that favours ethical neutrality, is Steve Uglow’s book Policing Liberal Society published in 1988.
It is important to recognise that I am using the term ‘liberal’ here in a very particular way, one which might not accord with how the term is commonly used. As Gray (2000) notes, there are at least two broad ways in which liberalism is conceived. These can be articulated with reference to Berlin’s (1958) seminal paper that distinguishes between positive and negative concepts of liberty. When I refer to liberal, I am talking about Berlin’s (1958) negative concept of liberty and a version of liberalism that favours limited interventions in society. It is the form of liberalism that champions ethical neutrality. This is the kind of liberal thinking that underpins Uglow’s (1988) Policing Liberal Society. Without wishing to confuse the matter, it should be noted that Alderson’s (1998) Principled Policing conforms to the other understanding of liberalism, which articulates a positive conception of liberty, and rather than seeking to limit interventions in society, it favours a form of value-led interventions that foster liberal principles concerning freedom and rights. My intention of using Alderson (1998) and Uglow (1988) as reference points is to avoid confusion.
TFrom the experiences I have had working with the police I am invariably overwhelmed by the heroic nature of the job performed by officers, and even more amazed by the level of patience and toleration most demonstrate in the face of hostile and violent provocation. Above all else, the ‘nobility’ (Waddington, 2013, p.12) or ‘romance’
(Delattre, 2011, p.1) of the police calling is apparent, such that police officers demonstrate levels of resilience, and a willingness to endure many a sling and arrow, beyond my own capacity to do so. In saying this, I am not blind to the fact that there is a negative flipside to the positive aspects of what Bacon (2014, p.111) refers to as the police’s ‘heightened sense of mission’, which, as he rightly suggests, can also
manifest itself as ‘an inflated sense of authority’ and self-importance. A book on policing will always incite the passions of its supporters and detractors alike. My intention is to be balanced on such matters, but above all else, it is not the purpose of this book to be judgemental or critical of the police and, if it is read as such, then I have fallen short of my goal. Police are confronted with increasingly difficult
and complex demands under circumstances that make, as Delattre (2011, p.355) puts it, ‘the possibility of fulfilling the police mission’ ever more challenging.
So far I have argued that ethical policing needs to be shaped by principles but without this becoming slavish compliance to preconceived values. Likewise, I have considered the extent to which human rights shape ethical policing. While recognising that human rights have the potential to guide the ethical reasoning of police officers, I have also highlighted the challenges of embedding human rights within police practice. These challenges are partly related to the specifics of police work (Bittner, 1970) and in particular the strong consensual dimension of police legitimacy (Reiner, 2010, pp.48–50). However, they also concern questions of whether human rights have the same purchase philosophically speaking in the 21st century as they did previously (Gray, 2000; Ignatieff, 2001; Gearty, 2006). A particular challenge arises from validating the universal claims of human rights. We are today more sensitive to the rich diversity of humanity globally, manifested through different ideas of what it means to be human, expressed in a multitude of ways. Human rights are increasingly seen as just one expression of what it means to be human, one that is imbued with a Western, Enlightenment focus on the individual and the centrality of a scientific rationality (Sen, 2009). Likewise, the international logic of human rights becomes ever more problematic when confronted by expressions of national self-interest in what are perceived to be increasingly insecure times. Indeed, the relative peace and security enjoyed during the second half of the 20th century, which allowed human rights to flourish, is seen from a Hobbesian perspective as an aberration, a break from the norm of chaos, war and disorder (Tralau, 2011).
In Chapter 2 I argued that principles play an important role in framing our understanding of ethical policing. At the same time, I suggested there are limitations in understanding ethical policing exclusively and simply as principled policing. In this chapter I look to develop both aspects of this argument by focusing on human rights as an example of principled policing.
In the first part of the chapter I provide a brief overview of the emergence of rights-based thinking, outlining different forms rights have taken. I also contextualise the emergence of human rights in the second half of the 20th century, in both intellectual and institutional terms. I draw a distinction between the moral and legal representations of human rights, between human rights-based ethical reasoning, and formal human rights institutions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA).
The distinction between the moral and legal representations of human rights is important in understanding ethical policing because within policing, I argue, a legalistic approach to human rights dominates. This can consequently limit the extent to which human rights impact upon policing ethically. I argue that it is the moral power of human rights that primarily establishes ethical policing. Moreover, I suggest that institutionalising human rights principles has the potential to unintentionally foster a culture of compliance, and thereby undermine the capacity for officers to think ethically. It is more appropriate, I suggest, to engage with human rights as moral aspirations, principles that we strive to achieve in practice, as opposed to understanding them as legal obligations and/or positional duties, expressed through compliance within a professional code of ethics.
With debate about police ethics intensifying, this stimulating book considers afresh the fundamental role of officers and their relations with society.
• It is a comprehensive and up-to-date introduction to ethical policing, taking a moral philosophical perspective to the evidence base and literature on the subject.
• Leading contemporary thinker Dominic Wood tackles the ethical issues of policing as a matter of compliance and discipline and reviews them in the context of contemporary challenges in policing and the wider criminal justice framework.
• From the parameters of moral policing to the role of human rights and to embedding ethics within police operations, this is a thorough overview of the subject of police ethics and legitimacy, and a springboard for further research and analysis.
A timely contribution to discussions about the police and their legitimacy, this is essential reading for all those studying, teaching and leading the profession.
Conventional theory, which dominates current understanding of leadership in the police, neglects to consider leadership as a complex and dynamic social process. This chapter explores the key principles of critical leadership studies and the theories of followership and shared and distributed leadership as alternative perspectives, and considers their relevance to police leadership. We argue that a social-constructionist approach to leadership, where leadership is considered as a product of historical, cultural and institutional processes, has an important contribution to the understanding of leadership in the police.
Influenced by the principles of critical management studies, critical leadership studies, as an emerging strand of leadership research, represents a body of work that ‘denaturalises’ the basic assumptions of conventional theory (Collinson, 2005a; Grint, 2005b; Ford, 2010). Rather than being concerned with effectiveness or efficiency in leadership, critical leadership scholars consider leadership as a dynamic, negotiated, emergent and contested process. As Hosking (1997: 293) explains:
We need to understand leadership, and, for this, it is not enough to understand what leaders do. Rather, it is essential to focus on leadership processes: processes in which influential acts of organising contribute to the structuring of interactions and relationships, activities and sentiments; processes in which definitions of social order are negotiated, found acceptable, implemented and renegotiated; processes in which interdependencies are organised in ways which, to a greater or lesser degree, promote the values and interests of social order.
The work of critical leadership scholars is influenced by Meindl et al’s (1985) concept of the ‘romance of leadership’, which refers to the ‘false assumption making’ of the exaggerated importance of leadership in mainstream discourse and a leader-centric understanding in which leadership is romanticised, idealised and understood as essential (Meindl, 1995).