The people of British Columbia expect the police to serve with courage, fairness, impartiality and integrity and to apply democratic principles that honor human dignity in the pursuit of justice.
Recognizing that the policing profession is distinguished by the character and values of the individuals within it, the British Columbia Police Code of Ethics reflects the commitment of all police officers in British Columbia, regardless of their rank or position, to ethical principles and values and acceptance of the responsibilities and privilege that accompany public service. Moreover, it is recognized that the Police Code of Ethics applies both individually and collectively, and as such applies equally to the organizations and agencies that make up the policing profession in British Columbia.
View the printable BC Police Code of Ethics document.
Police Officers in the Province of British Columbia, along with their respective organizations and agencies, embrace the following fundamental principles, which underpin the guiding values, primary responsibilities and decision-making framework:
- democracy and the rule of law
- justice and equality
- protection of life and property
- safeguarding the public trust
- that the police are the public and the public are the police
- the principles of the Constitution of Canada
- the rights enshrined in the Charter of Rights & Freedoms
Police Officers in the Province of British Columbia, along with their respective organizations and agencies, look to the following Guiding Values, which should direct all our decisions. Moreover, we recognize that our decisions will be judged according to how well they correspond to these values.
- public service
Police Officers in the Province of British Columbia, along with their respective organizations and agencies, affirm the following primary responsibilities, which are defined in terms of three key relationships. First, there is the public, who we serve. Next there are professional partners, with whom we work, and ourselves personally, to whom we must be true. Moreover, we recognize that responsibility occurs personally and collectively, and that accountability must accompany responsibility for it to be effectual.
Our basic policing duties are to protect lives and property, preserve peace and good order, prevent crime, detect and apprehend offenders and enforce the law, while at the same time protecting the rights and freedoms of all persons as guaranteed in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In fulfilling these duties, we must strive for excellence, which includes the exercise of professional discretion and judgment in a manner consistent with our fundamental principles and guiding values. Recognizing, however, that the ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval, support and willing cooperation, we must also provide open, responsive, impartial and accessible service. In other words, to safeguard the public trust, we will be responsible to the public and accountable publicly for what we do.
The Policing Profession and Partners
Consistent with our duties and responsibilities to the public, we are also responsible to the policing profession. First, we must always respect and to the best of our abilities abide by the standards of the profession, while at the same time seeking to improve them. To accomplish this, we will demonstrate a willingness to engage in open dialogue, which raises important issues and significant opportunities that can advance the profession for the purpose of providing better policing service to the public. This entails an openness to change and recognition of the need for the policing profession to develop informed, collaborative and participative police officers.
In addition to the policing profession, we are responsible to other professions that also serve the public. We must always cooperate with other police and law enforcement professionals, and with all those in the criminal justice system, in order to develop an open, just, and impartial justice system. As well, we must always strive to cooperate with other public service professionals in order to advance the public good. This involves the sharing of information in a relationship-building manner that celebrates the interdependent nature of professionals in promoting the goals of the justice system. This information sharing must balance confidentiality needs and due process with the needs of professionals, who are working for justice and the common good.
We accept personal responsibility for acting legally and ethically. The police officer is a model of discipline under trying circumstances, but to achieve this we must practice humility and a desire to learn from our experiences and mistakes, including the mistakes of others. As individuals we must have a clear idea of how to separate private advantage from public service and to make decisions that avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of personal gain. As well, ethical behavior entails duties that we owe to ourselves personally. In addition to reflecting upon what is right and what is wrong in the context of policing, we must as individuals develop a proper balance between our work and our personal life.