Updating international law enforcement ethics: International codes of conduct

Tyler Cawthray*, Tim Prenzler*, Louise Porter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


For any profession, establishing codes of ethics that are both practically relevant and up to date is an ongoing challenge. Law enforcement is no exception to this as agencies are faced with an evolving modern environment. With changes in technology, types of policing, and sources of societal conflict there is a potential array of new or evolving ethical considerations that confront the profession. Attempts to distill and prescribe law enforcement ethics at the international level have resulted in the creation of the “Law Enforcement Code of Conduct” of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the “Code of Conduct for
Law Enforcement Officials” of the United Nations (U.N.). However, both these codes were created decades ago, so they do not cover some of the more contemporary ethical issues that have arisen. This article compares the content of the IACP and UN codes and identifies a range of ethical issues either absent or insufficiently addressed. Normative themes and issues are organized around the following topics: difficulties in applying the codes, human rights and the use of force, misconduct and integrity, and enforcement and accountability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-209
Number of pages23
JournalCriminal Justice Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


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