Notifiable Associations, The Code of Ethics and Police Regulations

The request was partially successful.

Kent Police

I am in possession of an official police document which states:

The Code of Ethics and Police Regulations
16. The code of ethics relates to officers being associated to groups or activities.
17. 6.3 of the codes states “Memberships of groups or societies, or associations
with groups or individuals, must not create an actual or apparent conflict of
interest with police work and responsibilities”.
18. 6.4 states “The test is whether a reasonably informed member of the public
might reasonably believe that your membership or association could
adversely affect your ability to discharge your policing duties effectively and
impartially”.
19. The College of Policing Integrity and Ethics Team have stated that the topic
has never come up before and that 6.4 above should be considered. They
have not provided any additional guidance.
20. Police regulations do not offer any guidance in relation to this matter. The
Anti-Corruption Unit has considered whether officers should tell the
organisation that they hunt in relation to notifiable associations within Police
Regulations. They have said that it would be inappropriate to proactively ask
members of staff about their associations with hunts on the basis that it’s a
lawful activity.
21. As a comparator, membership of the Freemasons has long been a
contentious issue, there is not currently however legal basis upon which to
require police officers or staff to declare Freemasonry membership. This is
the case for Hunting both locally and nationally.

To paraphrase from the above - as a reasonably informed member of the public, I reasonably (based upon direct personal experience over considerable time) believe that serving officers with membership of or association with foxhunts or foxhunting voluntarily place themselves in situations where such membership or association adversely affects their ability to discharge their policing duties effectively and impartially.

Most particularly and obviously so when such officers are attached to rural crime teams; I am given to understand that rural crime work is taken on voluntarily and in addition to an officer’s core duties.

Laudable though this is, it raises the ethical question of an officer or officers with hunt membership or association being tasked to investigate allegations of lawbreaking by a hunt and hunt members with whom the officer(s) has or have contact outside of official police duties. I regard this in its mildest form as a demonstrable conflict of interest and at worst as raising reasonable doubts as to that officer(s) impartiality; a matter which could be open to misinterpretation by hunt members and supporters as well as those opposed to hunting in any form, legal or otherwise.

1. Please advise what steps have been taken within your force to ensure that a Code of Ethics exists which makes provision for conflicts of interest in matters where allegations of illegal hunting or cub hunting have been made.

2. Please advise if officers seeking to work on rural crime teams should be requested to voluntarily declare any membership of or association with hunts, regardless of hunting within the parameters of the Hunting Act 2004 being legal; such declarations being seen as goodwill and in the spirit of keeping your force from disrepute in the public mind.

S Rhosier

Freedom of Information Kent,

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Rhosier,

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REF 19/09/1434

 

Thank you for your request received by Kent Police on 30^th September
2019. I note you seek access, in summary, to information relating to:

 

The Code of Ethics

 

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) provides that a public
authority respond to an FOI request within 20 working days. Please be
aware that as well as experiencing very high request volumes, Kent Police
is currently in the process of transitioning to a new crime recording
database. This means that whilst we will endeavour to complete your
request as soon as possible it is likely that a response may well be
delayed, particularly where crime data is sought.

 

Your interest in Kent Police is appreciated and pending a specific
response to your request, I enclose a sheet, which summarises your rights.
Should you have any further inquiries concerning this matter, please write
or contact us via the following telephone number 01622 652610 quoting the
reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Lakeisha Dowsey-Magog

Freedom of Information Assistant

 

[1][email address]

Kent Police Public Disclosure Team

Coldharbour, London Road,

Aylesford, Kent, ME20 7SL

 

Internal Telephone: 14 2191

External Telephone: 01622 652610

 

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Freedom of Information Kent,

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Rhosier, 

 

With reference to the Freedom of Information request that we received from
you on 30 September. Please find attached the response letter.

 

Should you have any queries relating to this then please do not hesitate
to contact us.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Public Disclosure Officer

Information Security and Governance

Kent Police

 

This email and any other accompanying document(s) contain information from
Kent Police and/or Essex Police, which is confidential or privileged. The
information is intended to be for the exclusive use of the individual(s)
or bodies to whom it is addressed. The content, including any subsequent
replies, could be disclosable if relating to a criminal investigation or
civil proceedings. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that
any disclosure, copying, distribution or other use of the contents of this
information is prohibited. If you have received this email in error,
please notify us immediately by contacting the sender or telephoning Kent
Police on 01622 690690 or Essex Police on 01245 491491, as appropriate.
For further information regarding Kent Police’s or Essex Police’s use of
personal data please go to
https://www.kent.police.uk/policy/privac... or
https://www.essex.police.uk/copyright-pr...