2. Code of Conduct and Examples

The Code of Conduct provides part of a framework to guide police behaviour.  Whilst our actions should be directed to ensuring that we adhere to our Oath / Affirmation, the National Police Code of Ethics, and Tasmania Police Values, our individual performance is measured against the Code of Conduct.  The Code of Conduct applies to members both on-duty and off-duty.

This chapter contains each sub-section of the Code of Conduct and provides examples of behaviours that would be considered a breach of the relevant sub-section.  Some of these examples apply to more than one sub-section.  As the Code of Conduct is contained in section 42 of the Police Service Act 2003 the references below relate to that part of the legislation.

Members have obligations in relation to any breach of the Code of Conduct.  Those obligations are contained within Part 13 of the Tasmania Police Manual.  They are:


ORDER

A member who becomes aware of another member

  • committing a serious offence or crime; or
  • committing a breach of the Code of Conduct

must report the matter immediately to a senior officer.  The senior officer is to direct the informing member to register the matter on BlueTeam; or register it themselves.  Registration is to occur prior to the conclusion of duty that shift, unless the matter is able to be dealt with as provided for in Abacus 4.1.1 Discretionary Action for minor internally raised matters or victimisation/discrimination of police complainants


ORDER

Any member who is

  • proceeded against for any offence (other than a parking offence) or a serious offence or crime (including whilst interstate or overseas); or
  • proceeded against civilly; or
  • subject to bankruptcy proceedings

must immediately inform a senior officer and register the matter on BlueTeam™ as an Information Only report.  The Information Only report may be recategorised as appropriate.


2.1. Behave Honestly and with Integrity

42(1) . A police officer must behave honestly and with integrity in the course of his or her duties in the Police Service.

Members must be truthful, fair and impartial and act ethically at all times. This applies equally to whether they are dealing with another member, a relative or a person in the community.  Adherence to the Police Officer Oath / Affirmation, National Police Code of Ethics and Tasmania Police Values will support members to act with honesty and integrity in their duties.

Additionally, members must always exercise their legislative powers responsibly and uphold the law without any bias, favour or affection to any person or group.

Examples of failing to act with honesty and integrity include:

  • lying or omitting information
  • taking items of property without lawful justification (which may lead to a stealing investigation)
  • requesting another member ‘go easy’ with an investigation concerning a friend or family member
  • failing to report incidents where required (e.g. a police vehicle crash)
  • altering or manufacturing evidence to strengthen a case where a conviction may not otherwise be achieved (known as ‘noble cause’ corruption)
  • conducting a pre-interview discussion with a suspect in contravention of legislation and the Tasmania Police Manual (TPM)
  • adding investigation notes to an offence report indicating that certain inquiries have been undertaken when they have not

2.2. Act with Due Care and Diligence

42(2). A police officer must act with care and diligence in the course of his or her duties in the Police Service.

Members must act with professionalism at all times and be trustworthy, committed, competent and accountable. Members must pay attention to the duties they are undertaking and complete them to the best of their abilities and in accordance with the law.

Examples of failing to act with care and diligence include:

  • failing to submit a prosecution file prior to a court date, or at all (i.e. statute of limitations may expire)
  • failing to enter property items into the relevant property book
  • losing items of seized property or exhibits
  • negligence in respect to the loss or damage of Tasmania Police assets
  • failing to investigate reported crime or offences appropriately
  • inadequate and unsatisfactory supervision or management
  • failing to provide medical assistance to a person in custody

2.3. Comply with the Police Manual, Lawful Directions / Lawful Orders of a Senior Officer

42(3). A police officer must comply with – (a) all orders in the Police Manual; and (b) any lawful direction or lawful order given by a senior officer.

The TPM is a compendium of orders, procedures, directions and instructions to assist members of Tasmania Police in fulfilling their responsibilities.  Under section 42(3)(a) parliament has legislated that every officer has a duty at law to obey all TPM orders.  TPM orders are displayed distinctly with a clear heading ‘Order’.  A failure to comply with other aspects of the TPM (e.g. directions, procedures and instructions) may warrant action under section 42(2) or section 42(11).

A lawful order or lawful direction may be made verbally or in writing.  It includes any direction that is explicitly stated to a member as a “direction” and any order that is explicitly stated to a member as an “order” by a senior officer. It does not include orders in the TPM however includes all other lawful orders and lawful directions that may be given by a senior officer[15]. The direction or order must not contravene any legislation.

Under the Act a senior officer means a member who is determined under section 5 to be senior to another member.  Section 5 contains the order of seniority as follows:

  1. police officers in the order set out in sections 4(2)(a-h) [see next list]
  2. as between two police officers of different ranks, the police officer with the higher rank
  3. as between two police officers of the same rank, as determined by the Commissioner
  4. as between trainees, junior constables and police officers, as determined by the Commissioner

The order set out in sections 4(2)(a-h) is:

  1. Commissioner
  2. Deputy Commissioner
  3. Assistant Commissioner
  4. Commander
  5. Inspector
  6. Sergeant
  7. Constable
  8. Special Constable

Examples of failing to comply with all orders in the TPM include:

  • failing to immediately report to a senior officer that they have become aware of another member committing a breach of the Code of Conduct or an offence, serious offence or crime
  • failing to notify a supervisor, divisional inspector or duty inspector of an unintentional firearm discharge or submit a Use of Force report as required prior to concluding duty
  • using excessive force in the performance of duty
  • insubordination

Examples of failing to comply with a lawful direction or lawful order include:

  • witness officer failing to answer questions lawfully asked by a senior officer (if directed to do so), during an internal investigation
  • refusing to return to duty (if directed to do so), by a senior officer

2.4. Maintain Appropriate Confidentiality

42(4). A police officer must maintain appropriate confidentiality about any dealing made and information gained in the course of his or her duties in the Police Service.

Inappropriate use of information gained in the course of employment exposes both members and Tasmania Police to the potential for real harm. The community expects that members will handle and manage confidential information appropriately.

Legal requirements exist for Tasmania Police to maintain confidentiality of its activities and information holdings.  Information may only be disclosed where legislation, policy or procedure authorises its release.  When any doubt exists members must obtain advice from a supervisor or manager.

Examples of failing to maintain appropriate confidentiality include:

  • disclosing details of an individual’s prior convictions to a person who is not authorised to receive it
  • disclosing details of a police operation to a person subject to an investigation
  • checking police systems for a friend who is wanting to contact a former partner and releasing a mobile phone number or address to the friend
  • accessing police systems for contact details of people to be invited to a high school reunion
  • alerting the media to involvement of a high profile person in a police investigation or incident, or gossiping about such individuals in family or social settings
  • disclosing information gained in the course of duty on social media, including posting photos taken at crime or accident scenes or posting comments about an individual’s criminal history

2.5. Disclose and Avoid Conflicts of Interest

42(5). A police officer must disclose, and take reasonable steps to avoid, any conflict of interest in connection with his or her duties in the Police Service.

In order to maintain community confidence and transparency, members must be able to identify and manage any conflict or potential conflict of interest.  Conflicts of interest may be actual, perceived or potential.  For more information refer to Conflicts of Interest and to the Part 1.47 (Conflict of Interest) and Part 1.48 (Declarable Associations) of the TPM.

Members must discharge duties impartially and avoid becoming directly involved in any police matters concerning a friend, family member or a person with whom they have, or have had, an intimate relationship (including colleagues).  In recognition of these risks members must identify whether or not a conflict of interest or a declarable association exists.  Depending on the circumstances the conflict of interest or declarable association does not necessarily have to be avoided, but it must be identified and managed in consultation with a supervisor or manager.

Examples

  • inquiring with another member about an investigation of a crime/offence reported by or involving a family member or friend
  • engaging in unauthorised secondary employment in a debt-recovery role (where it could be perceived the member is accessing police data to assist that work)
  • affiliating with a community group where there is an expectation to ignore breaches of the liquor licence legislation
  • commencing a friendship or intimate relationship with a registered informant
  • accepting free tickets to a sporting match from a contractor without approval (and assuming that submission of the relevant gifts and benefits form will obviate ethical decision-making)
  • accepting a discount at a fishing supplies shop after recently investigating a stealing from that business

2.6. Use Police Resources Properly

42(6). A police officer must use the resources of the Police Service in a proper manner.

Members are provided with a wide range of resources enabling them to carry out duties in a safe and efficient manner.  Members are held accountable for their use of resources, which includes computer equipment, telephones, vehicles, vessels, firearms and uniform items.

Examples of improper use of police resources include:

  • the unauthorised use of a police vehicle or vessel
  • giving away, selling or attempting to sell police uniform items (including obsolete items) unless approved by the Commissioner
  • using a Tasmania Police fuel card to purchase fuel for a non-police vehicle or to purchase other items for any other purpose (e.g. buying tools to work on a police vehicle)

2.7. Not to Provide False or Misleading Information

42(7). A police officer, in connection with his or her duties in the Police Service, must not – (a) knowingly provide false or misleading information; or (b) omit to provide any matter knowing that without that matter the information is misleading.

Members must not intentionally or deliberately provide any information which they know to be false or misleading.  They must not ignore, overlook or neglect to provide any material or information knowing that the failure will cause a person to be misled.

Examples of knowingly provide false or misleading information include:

  • providing false information to investigators during an internal investigation, knowing that information to be false
  • deliberately providing false claims in respect to payment for overtime
  • deliberately providing misleading information in a report to a senior member
  • deliberately entering misleading information into police systems, e.g. ESCAD, ORS2, IDM or BlueTeam

2.8. Not to Use Information, Duties, Status, Power, or Authority Improperly

42(8). A police officer must not make improper use of – (a) information gained in the course of his or her duties in the Police Service; or (b) the duties, status, power or authority of the police officer – in order to gain, or seek to gain, a gift, benefit or advantage for the police officer or for any other person.

Community confidence requires members to properly safeguard information that they gain in the course of their duties. Members must not use any information gained in their employment for personal advantage or the advantage of any other person.

Examples of improper use of information and position include:

  • disclosing the identity of a suspected paedophile on a ‘private’ social media account
  • producing a police identification badge to gain free entry to a nightclub while off-duty
  • using their status as a police officer to obtain information from another agency (e.g. obtaining information from housing or welfare authorities regarding a neighbour with whom they are in dispute.)
  • receiving a firearm that has been surrendered for destruction and redirecting it to a firearms dealer so that the member may purchase it
  • using their power or status as a police officer to sexually exploit a vulnerable person met in the course of duty (‘predatory behaviour’)[16]

2.9. Not to Access Information to Which Not Entitled

42(9). A police officer must not access any information to which the police officer is not entitled to have access.

Members have access to a range of confidential information that is not accessible to the general community. Members must only access information if it is a direct requirement of their work responsibilities.  Members must not access any records relating to themselves, family members, friends or business associates.  If any doubt exists members must seek advice from a supervisor or manager.  It is preferred that a member not be granted permission unless there is an exceptional circumstance – and only then if the supervisor or manager is not in a position to access the record themselves.  Where permission is granted the member (and supervisor or manager providing permission) should record this in a notebook and/or in the Reason for Access.

Examples of access to information without entitlement include:

  • searching IDM for any intelligence relating to themselves, their siblings, children or any other relatives
  • conducting an IDM search of a prominent member of the community, for curiosity reasons
  • accessing a relative’s record to ascertain how many demerit points they have
  • checking registration details of an offending vehicle for a friend who has been involved in a crash
  • checking intelligence holdings regarding a prospective tenant or landlord
  • searching for a new partner’s name in the Family Violence Management System

2.10. Not to Destroy, Damage, Alter, Erase Official Documents, Records or Entries

42(10). A police officer must not destroy, damage, alter or erase any official document, record or entry without the approval of the Commissioner.

Members must not tamper with, or dispose of, any official record except as approved.  This includes written documents, recorded material (e.g. DVDs) and computer records (including emails in certain circumstances).  This may also constitute an offence under the Police Offences Act 1935 or a crime under the Criminal Code.

Examples of unlawful dealing with records include:

  • shredding or disposing of documents that a member has failed to act upon in a timely manner, rather than risk criticism or discipline for late submission
  • falsifying date and time entries in a bail register (sign-in book)
  • falsifying date and time entries in a register for an unmarked police vehicle
  • recording incorrect data in a Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) register
  • altering or erasing data on police reports or systems

2.11. Not to Conduct self or Act in Manner Prejudicial to, or Likely to Bring Discredit on, Tasmania Police

42(11). A police officer must not, at any time, conduct himself or herself or act in a manner that is likely – (a) to be prejudicial to the Police Service; or (b) to bring discredit on the Police Service.

The Tasmanian community expects that police officers will always act and behave in an appropriate manner, regardless of the circumstances they are confronted with.  These standards of behaviour are higher than what is expected elsewhere within the community.

To be prejudicial means to cause detriment or damage, affect unfavourably, or cause injury or impairment[17].

To bring discredit means to destroy confidence in, or injure the reputation of, or bring into disrepute[18].

Members must always be mindful of their conduct.  The Police Service Act 2003 enables any person to make a complaint about a member, whether on-duty or off-duty.

Examples of conduct likely to be prejudicial or bring discredit to the Police Service include where a member, on-duty or off-duty is:

  • making disparaging remarks to the media concerning a new policy introduced by Tasmania Police
  • driving an unregistered motor vehicle
  • verbally abusing a member of the public
  • deliberately acting beyond a member’s powers (e.g. issuing an instruction that a member is not empowered to issue)
  • breaching any law
  • failing to comply with Commonwealth legislation or court orders (e.g. failing to submit tax returns)
  • engaging in the vilification or discrimination of individuals or other sections of the community, including online
  • sexually harassing another member

2.12. Victimisation Of, or Discrimination Against, Officers Who Report Breaches

42(12). A police officer must not victimise or discriminate against another police officer because that other police officer has reported a breach of a provision of the code of conduct.

Members must report any breach of the Code of Conduct that they witness or receive information about to a senior officer and take action as required by the Part 13 of the TPM.  Should a member who makes such a report be subjected to any form of abuse, harassment, persecution or ill-treatment by any other member as a result of that report, it would amount to a breach of this section of the Code of Conduct.

Examples of victimising or discriminating against a member include:

  • making inappropriate comments about the member (irrespective of whether the member is actually present or not). This includes comments made on social media
  • ostracising or excluding the member in the work environment
  • directly or indirectly sending offensive e-mails or SMS messages to the member
  • refusing to work with the member
  • limiting the member’s opportunity for advancement, secondments or other workplace opportunities

2.13. Compliance with Any Other Prescribed Conduct Requirement

42(13). A police officer must comply with any other prescribed conduct requirement.

Prescribed conduct requirements are contained within the Police Service Act 2003 and other legislation. The examples provided are from the Police Service Act 2003.

Examples of prescribed conduct requirements include: 

Duties of Police Officers

35 (2)  A police officer –

(a)  must undertake the duties assigned to him or her; and

(b) must comply with any lawful direction or lawful order of a senior officer.

False or misleading statements

81 (1)  A person, in making an application for appointment or promotion or providing any information relating to the application, must not –

(a) make a statement knowing it to be false or misleading; or

(b) omit any matter knowing that without that matter the application or information is misleading.

Liability for lost or damaged equipment

Members are financially liable if they lose or damage any equipment that is issued to them.  This is in addition to any breach of the Code of Conduct which may result from the loss of damage.  The liability arises under s87 of the Police Service Act 2003 which states:

87 (1) A police officer or a person who has ceased to be a police officer who has lost or damaged any equipment issued to him or her –

(a) must report that loss or damage; and

(b) is liable for that loss or damage if unable to account satisfactorily to the Commissioner for that loss or damage.

(2) If a liability arises under subsection (1), the Commissioner, by notice in writing, is to inform the police officer or person of –

(a) the costs to be paid in respect of the loss or damage; and

(b) the method of payment; and

(c) the period within which the payment must be made.


Footnotes: 

[15] Attorney-General’s Reference No 1 of 2012 [2013] TASCCA 14 at [45]

[16] Definition from Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission report Predatory Behaviour by Victoria Police officers against vulnerable persons, December 2015, p3

[17] Oxford English Dictionary

[18] Oxford English Dictionary