To help build trust and public confidence in policing, Greater Manchester's independent Ethics Committee advises the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Beverley Hughes, and Greater Manchester Police on the complex dilemmas that policing faces in the modern world.
The committee has been given a wide remit, with GMP pledging to give access to the service’s systems and people. When established, it was the first of its type in the country.
The committee decides which issues it wants to consider, as well has having issues referred in by both GMP and the Deputy Mayor. Members of the public can raise issues with the committee – but it does not consider individual complaints about police.
The committee considers both broad thematic issues – such as discrimination, safe drug use, and surveillance – and practical day-to-day issues, such as the use of body-worn cameras by police officers.
Professional ethics is far broader than integrity alone. It incorporates the requirement to give an account of one’s judgments, acts and omissions. In simple terms, it is not only about doing the right deed but also about doing it for the right reason.
By having an ethics committee, the Deputy Mayor Beverley Hughes and Chief Constable Ian Hopkins are making an explicit and public commitment to transparent, ethical policing in Greater Manchester that is subjected to rigorous independent scrutiny.
Chair of the Committee - Bishop David Walker
Chaired by the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd David Walker, the committee’s membership has been drawn from across Greater Manchester’s diverse communities and members have extensive experience and expertise in a range of fields.
Bishop David said:
“As a diverse group, we seek to bring together our varied skills, experience and connections in the community. We believe we can strengthen and add value to the work of GMP for the benefit of all Greater Manchester people."
The Committee's work
Since it has been established, the committee has delivered a significant programme of work, on both a planned and responsive basis. Work the committee has conducted includes:
One of the first major pieces of work carried out was into the ethical considerations of police officers using body-worn videos. Technological advances mean that police can now use affordable cameras which provide high-quality images and audio which can be used for evidential purposes.
The committee considered the ethical dimensions of if, when and how these cameras should be used by police officers and police community support officers. As part of its research, the committee held focus groups with a range of community representatives and police. The committee published a report which summarised its findings and made 14 recommendations for GMP and the PCC’s office to consider before deploying the technology widely.
The research helped formulate GMP’s policy on the use of the technology, which has now been issued to all frontline police officers.
Use of force and weaponry such as Tasers
The committee reviwed a random sample of incidents involving Tasers to ensure GMP’s use of the weapon was appropriate and ethically-sound. This was generated from a wider look at how GMP deploys weaponry, and how force is used within policing.
Human tissue retention
Following an audit of human tissue being stored by GMP, the service discovered that there were a number of cases, dating back to 1987, where tissue belonging to deceased victims of crime had been retained by GMP without family members being informed.
GMP requested advice from the committee to ensure the proposed policy the service was taking to informing family members was ethically-sound.
Committee members reviewed GMP’s policy and practices around whistleblowing, as well as meeting with a range of police officers of varying ranks, and the Professional Standards Branch.
The committee commissioned Manchester Metropolitan University to develop an ethical framework for Greater Manchester Police.
The proposed ethical framework sets out 10 guiding principles, which will help the service demonstrate its commitment to transparency and ethical behaviour at an organisational level. These principles will help GMP officers and staff make robust, transparent decisions, which can be clearly articulated by being reflected in GMP’s policy framework. As an organisational document which addresses ethical behaviour at a corporate level, the framework complements GMP’s relevant codes of individual behaviour, such as the Code of Ethics and the College of Policing’s Competency Values Framework.
This need for a corporate ethical framework for GMP was established after the then Police and Crime Commissioner referred GMP’s commercial engagement with the government of Qatar to the committee. Concerns had been expressed by the public and elected representatives about GMP providing training to Qatari police, when that country has such a questionable human rights record. The committee rigorously examined the process of engaging with the government of Qatar and, while it found that proper due diligence had been conducted for this particular contract, the lack of a corporate ethical framework was a gap which the committee felt should be addressed.
It is believed that GMP will be the first police service in the country to have a corporate ethical framework.
Advice on events
GMP asked the Ethics Committee for guidance regarding Parklife and a request the service had received from The Loop (a charity GMP have previously worked with in testing drugs which are seized or found) about whether attendees at the festival could hand over any drugs they are carrying to be voluntarily tested without the risk of being arrested. This would be a preventative measure to avoid injury or death from tainted drugs, not just for the individuals who hand the drugs in, but more widely as if tainted drugs were found messages would have been sent on social media as warnings. But there was a clear ethical dilemma for the police around people volunteering illegal substances to the police and not getting arrested.
Committee members met with GMP to discuss the issue who advised that the approach taken should be one of public health and harm reduction, rather than legalistic, and GMP should engage the services of public health. At the festival, the decision taken was to take a policy of alerting festival goers to potentially dangerous drugs, rather than confirming that tested drugs were safe. The committee’s input was valued by police, the charity, and festival organisers.
Children and policing
The committee has considered the ethical issues around how the police interact with young people in general, and specifically the treatment of young people in custody. This work has involved focus groups with young people and engagement with custody staff, appropriate adult volunteers, and independent custody visitor volunteers.
Use of data
The committee considered the way in which the police used personal information in both the public and private domain when carrying out activities such as vetting, gathering intelligence and issuing public appeals, and provided advice to GMP on the ethical handling of personal information.
Police employment of people with criminal records
The committee looked at how people are vetted for careers within policing, and what considerations are given to grant employment to those with criminal records. The committee considered whether decisions or processes made by GMP’s vetting section were grounded in ethical principles and standards, and how that compliance is measured.
The committee reviewed GMP’s processes, other national guidelines, and the approach taken in other professions. They met with GMP’s vetting unit and produced a report with several recommendations around transparency, sustainability and equality.
Engagement with police officers and staff
The committee always aims to ensure it does not have to rely on the word of senior officers from GMP or the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office and, where possible, hears from the frontline when considering ethical dilemmas.
The committee has also directly engaged with frontline officers with specific learning sessions around ethics and integrity where officers were able to speak openly and frankly about how they can embed ethics into the day-to-day business of policing.
Ethics Commitee Members
Bishop of Manchester, Rt Revd David Walker
Bishop David Walker was enthroned as Bishop of Manchester in November 2013, which marked his return to his home city of Manchester. Bishop David has campaigned on social justice issues for many years, taking a particular interest in social housing. He has served on the Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Panel for the College of Policing. Bishop David chairs the committee.
Ruth is a retired former police officer who has lived in Manchester for more than 20 years. She is a former Assistant Chief Constable at Cheshire Police and previously served in North Wales. She has significant experience in diversity and community cohesion issues.
Paul Horrocks DL
Paul is the former editor of the Manchester Evening News. As one of the country’s most experienced regional newspaper editors, Paul was a leading figure in the Society of Editors and sat, for four years, on the industry’s regulator, the Press Complaints Commission. He has been involved in the appointments process for that body’s successor, the Independent Press Standards Organisation. He is also the former chair of Bury’s NHS Primary Care Trust.
David is an independent consultant specialising in Holocaust education and commemoration, cultural awareness and diversity training. He has delivered this work in a range of organisations from schools to the police service. Until recently he served as Chair of an Independent Advisory Group for Greater Manchester Police
Dr Ruth Bromley
Dr Bromley is the Lead for Ethics and Law at Manchester Medical School, a Clinical Fellow in Clinical Communication Skills, Ethics & Law at University Hospital South Manchester, and also works as a GP in Wythenshawe. She has taught the practical application of medical ethics for more than 10 years. During this time radically revamped the ethics and law teaching programme at Manchester Medical School to transform it into an engaging and practical programme for medical students. She also chairs the Manchester Medical School Ethics Hub.
Nasir is a criminal defence solicitor who has worked on a number high profile, complex and serious cases where the client has been accused of terrorism. He has engaged with individuals from particular backgrounds who have felt they have been unjustly targeted by police. He has used his experience with faith groups to advise police and develop constructive dialogue between the police service and minority groups.
Sally Lester is HM Assistant Chief Inspector of Probation, where she regularly has to come to considered and impartial judgements after examining organisational policies, processes and decision-making. She has also managed projects to improve and develop the criminal justice systems in a range of jurisdictions in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. From September, she will be Head of Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements and the Violent and Sexual Offender Register at the National Offender Management Service.
Cym is the Chief Executive of Arawak Walton Housing Association, which specialises in meeting the complex housing needs of black and ethnic minority communities. Cym also chairs BMENational, a collective of more than 60 BME housing associations in England and is a member of the advisory group for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s research into housing and poverty.
Catherine has extensive experience in healthcare regulation and chairs hearings at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (formerly the GMC) and the Health and Care Professions Council, deciding whether practitioners can continue in unrestricted practice in the light of allegations about their conduct and performance. She also acts as a lay advisor for organisations training doctors and dentists. She works part time for a Stockport based environmental consultancy and has previously worked in higher education and in store management with M&S. Catherine is a school governor, Chair of Trustees for a Stockport charity and has recently been appointed as a magistrate.
Dr Shaid Mushtaq
Dr Mushtaq is a director of two businesses which seek to provide education and training programmes to the residents of Oldham, where he lives. He is actively involved in community work and projects in Oldham aimed at building community cohesion. He is a member of GMP’s independent advisory group in Oldham and sits on the executive committee of the Oldham Race Equality Partnership.
Sean manages a pupil referral unit in Manchester, where his work is divided between working directly with young people and developing the service provided. He is active in his community, acting as treasurer and coach at the Ardwick Amateur Boxing Club, where he has successfully diverted young people away from criminal activities, and encouraged young people – particularly from the Irish Traveller community – into education
Dr Peter Joyce
Dr Joyce is a principal lecturer in criminology at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has published numerous books and articles on policing and the criminal justice system and has provided expert input to GMP’s professional standards branch regarding the development of the Ethics Committee.
For many years, Roy was a Manchester councillor, representing Moss Side. He is a former Lord Mayor of Manchester.
Members receive an allowance of £1,000, and an attendance allowance of £211.50 per day or £104.50 per half day. This allowance is in line with Home Office guidance.