Institute of Criminology, Sydney

Conflict of Interest in Policing

Problems, practices and principles


Conflict of interest allegations have become a prominent part of the landscape of political and public sector ethics in Australia and overseas. The arena of policing has not been immune from this problem and this book is based on unique and unfettered access to ten years of internal investigation files held by Victoria Police.

Through detailed analysis of actual complaint cases it gives the reader a comprehensive map by which to chart the particular kinds of interests involved, the nature of conflicts with official police duties, and the particular contexts from which conflicts of interest emerge.

The book examines conflicts of interest across the private and public realm of the everyday lives of police officers. The author outlines how the problem of conflict of interest is an important aspect of police ethics, arguing that recognition of, and accountability for, conflict of interest may be a significant element in preventing upstream police misconduct and corruption.

Conflict of Interest in Policing seeks to provide a conceptual and practical understanding of how integrity and trust must be integrated into the profession of policing through processes of active responsibility, rather than more traditional passive obedience to prescriptive rules.


...Quality empirical research on policing in Australia is still regrettably rare. The production of such work depends upon: academics who are prepared to get out from behind their desks; police departments which are willing to open themselves to external scrutiny; funding agencies which value such research; and publishers who are committed to increasing public knowledge and understanding.
This excellent book by Cindy Davids makes a significant contribution to the international, as well as the Australian, policing literature. Chief Commissioner Nixon and her colleagues in Victoria Police deserve great credit for allowing a researcher to have unrestricted access to such sensitive material as complaints files. ...
- Professor David Dixon, Dean, University of New South Wales, From the Foreword

...Dr Davids provides useful and rigorous definitions of the wide range of conflicts of interest that lie in wait to ethically undo the unaware or ignorant police officer in the ordinary course of his and her public duties. She explores in great and useful detail the dimensions of the problem, the different types of cases, and, importantly, how through the complaints system those that are reported are internally investigated and resolved. She also reports on the great strengthening of the system of external review and investigation in Victoria as progressed through the creation of the Office of Police Integrity.
... This book will make a significant contribution to the education of future generations of police officers. I commend it to you. - Christine Nixon, APM, Chief Commissioner, Victoria Police, From the Introduction

Table of Contents

List of Tables
List of Figures
Preface by Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon (Victoria Police)
Foreword by Professor David Dixon


Conflict of Interest and Police Corruption
This Study

Conflict of Interest Defining the Problem and Its Dimensions

What is Conflict of Interest?
Manifestations of Conflict of Interest

Dealing with the Problem: The System of Accountability

Conflict of Interest and Police Misconduct
Accountability in Operation: The Victoria Police Discipline System
Building Accountability

The Private Realm: Relationships and Involvements

Organisational Involvements
Family-based Involvements
Problematic Personal Relationships

The Public Realm: Use and Abuse of Police Powers and Authority

Intervention, Action, or Involvement in Police Investigations and Processes
Use of Police Power to Harass
Exercise of Improper Influence in Civil Matters

The Public Realm: Use and Abuse of Police Resources

Misuse of Confidential Information
Misuse of Other Police Resources
Summary and Discussion

Conclusions and Reflections: Conflict of Interest, Police Ethics and Accountability

Defining the Problem and its Dimensions
Conflict of Interest and Police Ethics
References Index

Of interest...