Does the police service need a values-based decision-making model: if so, what should that model look like?

Adams, Richard Falconer (2012) Does the police service need a values-based decision-making model: if so, what should that model look like? Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


UK policing lacked a single decision making model which explicitly required decision makers to consider values affecting their judgement. Motivation for the applied aspect of this work was to develop such a model. The wider research concerned the identification of the values underpinning policing. Consequently, it was essential to understand how values were engaged with and reflected by policing. Policing here was defined as a profession and a preliminary hypothesis for the research was that a single set of values would cross cut the service. An analysis of the stated police values across services in the UK indicated this was not the case. A review of the literature confirmed that in reality, officers take decisions that require discretion. Whilst this was necessary to ensure legitimacy, little training was offered in the application and understanding of discretion. From the literature it was apparent policing reflected various ethical theories at different times. However the service slanted towards the deontological. This position which argues this was reflected within interviews undertaken for the research. From the data, conclusions were drawn that policing was predicated on the three values of integrity, fairness and respect; values which were also reflected in submissions made by members of internet based professional networks. Interviews and focus groups also established that 'service values', i.e. those which underpinned the generic delivery of policing, were insufficient to guide officers in decision making on the ground. This research demonstrated that policing would benefit from a values-based decision-making model. The model was developed, piloted and evaluated in parallel with research for this thesis. As a result of the study, knowledge has been added to policing through the development of this model. It now forms a component of the recently endorsed National Decision Making Model for policing (ACPO Professional Ethics:National Decision Model 2012) and has become part of the curriculum for accredited firearms and senior leadership training in Scotland. Additionally, integrity and fairness have been included in the Scottish Government's proposed new Oath of Constable. As a result of this research, the author is involved with Government in developing definitions for these terms.

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