Recommendations

Subject Considered

The External Committee's Guidance

 Use of Lego on police social media accounts  The view of the External Ethics Committee is that these posts are worth continuing, being light-hearted and engaging, and apparently effective. The use of social media in this way brings in a new audience who are interested in the work of the police.
 Charity Logos and advertising on Police Vehicles

Discussed by the Cleveland and Durham External Ethics Committee on Wednesday 5 April, 2017.  Following this discussion the Committee were happy in principle to support charity logos on Police vehicles, subject to considerations by the Force and Charity that funding is not disproportionate and that it is demonstrated to be effective.  Additionally, the Committee wanted any hidden consequences of this contact method to be fully risk assessed taking into account the individuals and groups of people that the charity are trying to reach. The discussion also included the issue of fairness and suggested that the Force may want to consider a rolling programme to support other national or local charities in the same way.

 

 Ethics of businesses we engage with

Discussed by the Cleveland and Durham External Ethics Committee on Wednesday 5 April, 2017.  It was recognised that this issue covered two types of interaction.  Firstly, those formal arrangements through which the police purchase services via a tendering arrangement.  In this situation the procurement process would normally include some degree of ethical consideration.  However, the Committee were interested in the level of weighting given to these ethical considerations compared with other considerations such as cost.  The Committee would like to discuss this further with Police representatives who could perhaps provide details of such weightings.  It was also considered that ad hoc/informal arrangements for services provided to the organisation and its members should mirror those of the formal procurement process; the ethics of a supplier organisation should then be recognised through the weightings applied during assessment of suitability.

 

 Accepting Alcohol as a gift Discussed by the Cleveland and Durham External Ethics Committee on Wednesday 5 April, 2017.
It was considered that there was no ethical reason why this policy could not be amended to include the acceptance of alcohol as a gift, but it was considered that this should be subject to a suitable monetary limit, presumably set at the same level as for other gifts.
 Provision of Privately Funded Police Officers

Police resources, whether within working hours or not, should not be used for private security. We understand that this is a long standing arrangement, but nevertheless times and circumstances have changed – (is there any evidence to the risk assessment of the need – if not perhaps there should be). This could be considered a precedent from which further requests could follow which could have a detrimental effect on available resources for normal policing activity. Whilst this particular activity occurs outside normal operating resources, this may not be the case in other requests.  It is considered that this fits within the same bracket as income generation, which we previously suggested was not an appropriate activity. We believe there are appropriate private sector organisations which could provide this service.

 

A private company was offering to pay Cleveland Police to promote their products which assist the public following road traffic collisions.

A decision has already been taken by Cleveland Police not to pursue the business partnership proposed.  The EEC feels that this is a correct decision.  We were dubious about the need or value of such a service.  In general, we feel that business collaborations for the purpose of income generation are inappropriate, unless it can be demonstrated they improve operational efficiency, or provide a needed service that does not impair operational efficiency, or do not compromise the perceived impartiality of the police force.

 

Income Generation - An officer  proposed that he and his colleagues could generate income for the organisation by conducting accident reports for solicitors on some of their rest days

We understand that accident reports are required and appropriate when requested by a coroner, or in the pursuance of a conviction.  We are doubtful if they are appropriate solely for the purpose of generating additional income, despite the current economic climate. Our specific concerns include public perception, the extension of the officer’s time as an expert witness, the nature of the report required – whether opinion based or factually based.  We are also doubtful that police time, whether overtime or otherwise, is for the purpose of assisting solicitors and insurance companies. The practice seems to be close to paying the police for personal gain and, despite the fact that this happens with football clubs and event organisers, the current proposal is of a different character.  It may be worth seeking information from forces where the practice takes place: to what extent has it been successful? What problems have been encountered?

 

 External Secondments - An officer questioned the consistency of forces decision making around authorising external secondments

In general, the committee feels that this is primarily a management and communications issue.  From the information given, it would seem that the secondment matter has been handled poorly.  Even when a decision is right, it needs to be seen to be right, and appropriate reasons given.  Greater clarity and transparency is needed.  It is clearly unethical for one officer to receive preferential treatment over another regardless of rank. Operational constraints may affect decisions, but this needs to be communicated.  Perhaps secondment opportunities can be advertised with the stated proviso that operational requirements and staffing levels might affect opportunity.  On the specific case cited we had insufficient information to arrive at a conclusion.  The length of the secondment is a critical factor, for example.

 

Bonus Payments - A question was submitted on whether it was right for officers to claim bonus payments for dealing with particularly unpleasant tasks and the process for claiming them (this is catered for under the Windsor recommendations (an independent review of police officer and staff remuneration and conditions, published March 2011)

We discussed the rationale for an additional cash payment for attending a serious incident. We could not see why a small cash payment would make attendance at such events more palatable. We understand that a gesture may make dealing with particularly unpleasant tasks easier. However it is fraught with difficulties as the onus would be on the Chief Constable to decide on the appropriateness of the incident for this payment, as there appears to be no clear definition. We are also not clear as to whether officers would see this as beneficial (would officers involved see £50 a derisory offer for the event, especially for more serious events ?). The committe don’t think it is appropriate to create a bonus system of this nature, but that there should be recognition of their service, eg commendations. However if there was additional personal costs incurred in carrying out this duty, it is felt that these should be reimbursed. It is assumed that appropriate assistance (eg counselling) for emotional support for attending such events is part of the employee package and duty of care. It is suggested that the public view would be that cultural recognition for police activity would not be through additional cash payments. We believe that other emergency services (e.g. ambulance, fire & rescue) are not eligible for such payments when dealing with the same unpleasant incidents and we could see no reason why the police should be different.

 

Visible tattoos - Is it appropriate for Officers and staff to have visible tattoos of any nature.

In principle the External Ethics Committee considered tattoos to be acceptable as long as they do not cause offence.  For instance, the Committee are working on the basis that force policy would not accept, at the point of joining Cleveland Police or Durham Constabulary, an individual with a tattoo deemed offensive / inappropriate towards groups with protected characteristics. Also, issues around the visibility of tattoos when officers are in full / partial uniform were considered, particularly given the increased social acceptability of tattoos on hands and neck areas.  The committee’s view would be to apply existing force policy, i.e. ensure that visible tattoos are non-offensive or inappropriate.  However, given that final decisions will be subjective, it is important that this should be a group decision independent from the officers concerned in the recruitment process, rather than the responsibility of one individual

 

Accepting discounted goods - Is it acceptable for Officers/ staff to accept free or discounted goods (including food and drinks)

The issue is too variable to create a simple formula and requires a principle-based approach.  Appropriate behaviour is dependent on the good judgement and common sense of officers who should nevertheless be given guidance.  The essential principle is that police officers should not be treated differently from the general public or receive preferential treatment solely because they are police officers.  Favoured treatment should not be routine, expected, solicited, habitual or excessive.  Special services or discounted prices from businesses when unconnected with a specific incident should be declined.  It is especially important that favours that might be construed as an inducement for extra attention or protection are refused.  On the other hand, when dealing with victims of crime in their home, a cup of tea is perfectly acceptable.  It may be that one-off expressions of thanks are given such as often happens in schools and hospitals; e.g. a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates or even a free meal.  This may be acceptable but perhaps a value limit should be agreed (in one university and one council it is twenty five pounds).  Gifts or services over this limit should be refused or declared to a supervisor.

 

 Compensation for travel delay

 If a ticket has been paid for by the organisation then any financial compensation received as a result of a delayed journey should be returned to the organisation, there are existing provisions in place for compensating the officer/staff involved.

 

 Accepting discounted goods

 The issue is too variable to create a simple formula and requires a principle-based approach.  Appropriate behaviour is dependent on the good judgement and common sense of officers who should nevertheless be given guidance.  The essential principle is that police officers should not be treated differently from the general public or receive preferential treatment solely because they are police officers.  Favoured treatment should not be routine, expected, solicited, habitual or excessive.  Special services or discounted prices from businesses when unconnected with a specific incident should be declined.  It is especially important that favours that might be construed as an inducement for extra attention or protection are refused.  On the other hand, when dealing with victims of crime in their home, a cup of tea is perfectly acceptable.  It may be that one-off expressions of thanks are given such as often happens in schools and hospitals; e.g. a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates or even a free meal.  This may be acceptable but perhaps a value limit should be agreed (in one university and one council it is twenty five pounds).  Gifts or services over this limit should be refused or declared to a supervisor.

 

 Time off for sport

 The Committee did not see any occasions where police officers could be given paid time off for sport during their working time, given the public perception and fiscal conditions where police forces are cutting frontline resources. The committee believed, however, that as much assistance as possible should be given to officers, for example, to arrange shift swaps, take annual leave or unpaid leave if required as sport is fundamentally a good thing and can raise the perception of the force.

 

 Discount offered by a fitness centre provider

 Any such offer can be considered in line with the existing guidance on staff discount schemes. The committee agree with the proposal, with reservation that it is not exclusive to one area of Cleveland and that management of the proposal should be delegated to the Federation.

 

 Lawful Business Monitoring Guidance

 The Force may want to consider further clarification of some of the terminology. It was considered there could be a risk to the organisation where only one person was authorised to make decisions around this subject.

 

 Custody detention and medical advice

 Discussed in terms of what comes first, right to be free or right to life.  This was considered as a question of duty of care to an individual. Where an individual is at risk to either themselves or others and evidence is available from a registered medical advisor, then consideration should be given to the continued detention of the individual.  At which point, if appropriate, the legal advisor and/or appropriate adult should be informed and Police records updated to document clearly the decision making process for extending detention.

 

 Charity Logos and advertising on Police Vehicles  The Internal Committee highlighted that undoubtedly we support good work done by charities and that we always want to prevent offences and exploitation. There must be a consideration on the impact if someone contacts a charity but may be making admissions of an offence in doing so. Also it is right to discuss the prioritisation of one charity over another. Further discussed by the Cleveland and Durham External Ethics Committee.  Following this discussion the Committee were happy in principle to support charity logos on Police vehicles, subject to considerations by the Force and Charity that funding is not disproportionate and that it is demonstrated to be effective.  Additionally, the Committee wanted any hidden consequences of this contact method to be fully risk assessed taking into account the individuals and groups of people that the charity are trying to reach. The discussion also included the issue of fairness and suggested that the Force may want to consider a rolling programme to support other national or local charities in the same way.
 Ethics of businesses we engage with  The internal committee saw two types of engagement. The formal procurement process and the less formal 'support' of businesses perhaps by uniformed officers attending retail stores. Within the current procurement process ethics of a business are considered. It was clear that where there was any current links to criminality then businesses should not be supported even informally, however there was also the expectation of rehabilitation, and links to previous crime can't be held against a business owner for an indefinite period of time. It should be part of the policing process to aid rehabilitation once convictions are spent. Further discussed by the Cleveland and Durham External Ethics Committee.  It was recognised that this issue covered two types of interaction.  Firstly, those formal arrangements through which the police purchase services via a tendering arrangement.  In this situation the procurement process would normally include some degree of ethical consideration.  However, the Committee were interested in the level of weighting given to these ethical considerations compared with other considerations such as cost.  It was also considered that ad hoc/informal arrangements for services provided to the organisation and its members should mirror those of the formal procurement process; the ethics of a supplier organisation should then be recognised through the weightings applied during assessment of suitability.
 Accepting Alcohol as a gift  This was passed to the External Committee at the request of the internal committee.
It was considered that there was no ethical reason why the current policy could not be amended to include the acceptance of alcohol as a gift, but it was considered that this should be subject to a suitable monetary limit, presumably set at the same level as for other gifts.  This would be to reflect the social norm of, for example, a bottle of wine being given as a token of appreciation. Recommendation to be passed to the Head of the Professional Standards Department for consideration when reviewing the policy.
 WellFit initaitive  The principles of the proposal were supported by the Internal Ethics Committee in recognising the benefits of physical and mental wellbeing. There was a concern that unless the selection of a trainer was opened to the wider staff then it could be perceived as unfair. The proposal was further referred to the External Ethics Committee and they made the following observations and recommendations. A key ethical issue discussed at the Internal Ethics Committee had been resolved by the time this was discussed at the EEC two weeks later (opening up the selection of a suitable trainer across all staff). The only remaining issue was one of access and, given the limited places available on the programme, the Committee felt that it would be appropriate for members of the service to be referred and prioritised, for instance as part of a return to work process, if the number of people wanting to participate exceeded the vacancies available.
 Charity Blue Lyke Walk donations to support those members of Staff taking part  Accepting these goods does not create any conflict or ethical issue. The message needs to be clear that the organisations that are giving services or goods to the participants are actually supporting them doing a charitable action and are therefore facilitating a charitable action, so the charity are the beneficiaries and not Cleveland Police staff.
There needs to be a Communications strategy with the message sent out regarding the event along the lines of thanking people for supporting the charity as opposed to advertising / endorsing their businesses. Many companies make donations to charity or have community or social responsibility funds. There is no ethical issue in that officers are completing this difficult event in their own time and for no personal gain and should be supported. There is the benefit of reputational gain for both Cleveland Police and the contributing businesses.
When officers approach businesses it should be done with a standard professional approach and explaining that it won’t lead to future endorsement and is to support a charity, not Cleveland Police.
 Sponsorship of Force Football Team kit  External committee considered and state: There was a view that the value of the sponsorship was important in considering the ethical aspects of this referral. It was estimated that for the purposes of this submission the value would be approximately £200-£250.  There was some difference of opinion within the Committee over the ethical issues relating to sponsorship of the Police in general, with the majority view being that sponsorship should be acceptable provided the sponsor could demonstrate their ethical credentials and provided there were no other contractual links between the sponsor and the police.  There was a strong opinion that the Force needed to be able to demonstrate its impartiality within the community and the Committee’s preference was that any sponsorship should clearly not be viewed as the Police endorsing a particular company or organisation.
It was suggested that, given these caveats,  a donation or grant could be a more appropriate solution for the organisation than seeking sponsorship.