Morality and Police Conduct: a Way Forward for Ethical Policing
Forum on Public Policy
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Law and Justice
At times the police make headline news for the wrong reasons having violated a rule or procedure, overstepped their powers in investigating a crime or broken the law. Sometimes, however, police behaviour, which is dubious, improper or unethical, is accepted by the judiciary. This paper explores the disjuncture between universal moral principles found in the Western Australian Police Code of Conduct and improper police conduct that discretionary decision making allows. This paper contends that although some universal moral principles are violated with apparent impunity, moral principles serve to provide an external morality guide to police. As a way forward, Habermas‘ theory of discourse ethics may assist in bridging the divide between moral principles and police practices.