The role of leadership in promoting ethical police behaviour

This study looked at the issues of leadership and police organisational ethics, namely: what makes some people more effective in the context of ethical leadership; how did leadership seem to influence staff behaviour; what impact the leadership style has relative to other influences (such as force culture, force values and priorities, performance regimes). The work involved qualitative fieldwork with a sample of five police forces from across England and Wales. Within each force interviews were undertaken with three members of the chief officer team and five or more officers and staff from frontline ranks.

Perpetuity Research principal researcher Sarah Webb commented on the research:

“The encouraging news from this research is that there was support for the view that police leadership styles have moved away from the often autocratic approach of yesteryear to the more democratic and participative style that characterised many police leaders today, and most senior and front line officers interviewed believed this was consistent with a heightened commitment to ethical behaviour. Most importantly, when it comes to ensuring the police behave with integrity, the approach and examples set by front line managers were seen to be more influential than senior officers. In policing then, ethical behaviour is driven from low down the organisation and senior officers have a major role in recognising this and adequately preparing and supporting those on the front line.”

View the findings here.

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