Professional Standards Department has published guidelines in relation to inappropriate associations. The guidelines are in place to ensure public confidence, and to protect the information that the Police Service holds. They will also protect the integrity of staff who may find themselves the subject of interest from criminal elements intent on obtaining information from or influencing a course of action by individuals due to their associations. The guidelines also seek to protect the reputation of the organisation itself.
They will apply to all PSNI officers and staff and are intended to inform individuals as to what may be an inappropriate association and to make them aware that being an employee of the PSNI brings with it certain responsibilities, which may, for the individual concerned, require certain difficult lifestyle choices to be made.
Detective Superintendent Colin Taylor explains: "As an employee of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (or as an individual working under contract for the Police Service) these responsibilities do not cease with the termination of a shift, a working day or by reason of any other absence, such as annual leave. The public rightly expects the highest standards from all our staff, this includes not only our actions but also the company that we each choose to keep.
"An association will be considered inappropriate and will not be acceptable where it has the potential to, or is likely to, or is likely to:
- Compromise the member of staff.
- Compromise the operations or activity of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
- Compromise the reputation of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
"Individuals need to ask themselves the question, is my association, be it with an individual, a group, participating in a social activity, or frequenting a location likely to impact on any of the points above? Whilst it is impossible to give precise definitions, it would include associating with those involved in drugs activity, paramilitary activities and other criminality."