A high-powered independent Ethics Committee for policing has been set up in Greater Manchester.
The committee – the first of its type in the country – will advise Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd and Greater Manchester Police on the complex moral, ethical and integrity dilemmas policing faces in the modern world.
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: “I’m delighted to be part of this new body. Greater Manchester Police has a vision for its work in which the ethical issues that surround both policy and operations will be given full weight.
“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.
Tony Lloyd added: “Ethics and integrity go to the heart of good policing. It’s also an area that is increasingly in the spotlight due to high-profile cases – such as Hillsborough and the Stephen Lawrence murder – which have the potential to damage confidence in policing. This new independent body will help shape how we approach ethical dilemmas here in Greater Manchester.
“We don’t want this to be a talking shop – rather we want the committee to robustly challenge both Greater Manchester Police and myself, and scrutinise our work. We want it to provide strong, practical advice and recommendations which will drive up standards in policing both here in Greater Manchester and across the country.
“It also shows the public that police in Greater Manchester are serious about driving up standards. I’m looking forward to a healthy, transparent debate.
“The membership comprises a distinguished and informed group of people from across our region. I’m grateful they’ve been willing to serve on the committee and look forward to working with them in the coming months and years.”
Sir Peter Fahy said: “There are lots of grey areas in policing where our staff are faced with dilemmas over what is the right thing to do in a complex world where people can have very strong views on different sides of the fence.
“I hope this committee will take referrals from both staff and the public on difficult ethical issues so that there is wider consultation and independent input.
“It is only one of a number of measures we are taking to strengthen our transparency and openness.”
At the committee’s first meeting, members outlined their ambitions for the body and discussed some of the “hot topics” facing policing today.
It is anticipated that the committee will set up smaller working groups to examine issues in detail to make strategic, policy and practical recommendations to Tony and the Chief Constable.
The committee has been given a wide remit, with GMP pledging to give access to the service’s systems and people. The committee will decide which issues it wants to consider, as well has having issues referred in by both GMP and Tony. Members of the public will also be able to raise issues with the committee – although it will not be able to consider individual complaints about police.
The committee is likely to consider both broad thematic issues – such as discrimination and surveillance – to practical day-to-day issues such as the police officer use of body-worn cameras.
More information on the committee, including details of the members and how to contact the committee, is available at gmpcc.org.uk/ethicscommittee.