1. Any organization should have some core values that would govern all its activities and actions as well as be an integral part of the corporate culture of this organization. However, these values become even more important if this organization is closely related to the community’s life and is tightly intertwined with daily routine of both local community and the society in general. Hence, the Australian Federal Police belongs to the latter category of institutions since it has a profound impact on and plays a vital role in the life of Australian society. Its main task is to ensure the safety of all Australians and decrease the rate of crimes committed in the country as well as participation in global crime prevention and fight to some extent. The work of the Australian Federal Police would hardly benefit society and it could not be considered as truly successful without seven core values central of all its activities.
These seven values include integrity, commitment, excellence, accountability, fairness, trust, and respect (Australian Federal Police, 2015). At the first glance, these values may look as general notions that any person would call important in life and would strive to follow in daily actions. Moreover, some may even say that these values are too broad and general for one to be able to implement them truly in the police’s operations. Nonetheless, the AFP’s work would become meaningless and potentially hazardous to society without these values to govern everyday police officers’ decisions and operations. The matter is that the AFP stands in the vanguard of protecting Australian society against crimes and ensuring safety of law-abiding citizens. At the same time, the AFP is responsible for investigating committed criminal acts and bringing justice to victims by detaining criminals and gathering evidence to be presented in court so that they would receive just and fair sentences. Without the above-mentioned values, police officers would have to no moral ideal, towards the attainment of which they should strive. Otherwise, the AFP would resemble a group of well-trained armed persons who could do whatever they want and remain unpunished. It would undermine the value and very meaning of justice and law that depend on the AFP in terms of their proper implementation in society.
Thus, it is essential for the AFP to have these seven values in their Corporate Plan clearly stated and explained. Their inclusion ensures that anyone, including the AFP and any citizen, can look into the Corporate Plan and be acquainted with the values that the AFP believes into and strives to follow. This way, people would know what to expect of police officers and how any police officer should behave. Moreover, the section of the Corporate Plan relating to the values should become something like a Bible for the police officers who have to know these values by heart and comprehend what they imply in terms of their decisions, conduct, and actions. However, it is not enough to know the values as police officers have to internalize them and make them an integral and inseparable part of their character and belief system. Therefore, the Corporate Plan performs a significant role of introducing the core values of the AFP to both the police force and the public. If the plan does not have explicitly stated what values should be and are the core ones for the AFP, police officers might find themselves in a confusing situation when every individual would follow their own principles without much regard for the overall mission, goal, and values of the institution. It would make the institution as a whole weak and inconsistent in its decisions and actions, which in turn would undermine its position in society. Criminals would undeniably try to exploit the situation to their benefit and society would pay a high price for the morally weak police force.
Withal, the above listed values that are central to all activities of the AFP have been rightfully included into its Corporate Plan since they explicitly state what is expected of all police officers in particular and the institution in general. If they have not been included into the plan, it would leave the AFP at a loss in terms of what values should govern its activities, decisions, and operations. Furthermore, it would breed confusion in the public as to whether they could and should trust the AFP with such significant task as their protection and safety. The AFP is a vital institution in Australian society that should have and follow the highest moral standards and principles, which would be impossible without introduction and implementation of its core values.
2. It is undeniable that all seven values listed in the Corporate Plan of the Australian Federal Police are extremely important and they have to be followed by all police officers at all times. However, if to choose only two values that could be considered as the most important ones, integrity and accountability seem to be these two values. The main reason for such a decision is the fact these two values can provide a solid foundation for the efficient implementation of all other values, which is essential for all seven values to be internalized by the AFP and followed daily.
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In the Corporate Plan, integrity is defined as a value that is “displayed through soundness of moral principle, honesty and sincerity” (Australian Federal Police, 2015). Although the seven values are unlikely to be listed in terms of their priority, this value still is the first one to be included into the list, which implies that this core value is among the first to spring up in mind when thinking about ideal police. Integrity means that the police force should be highly moral, honest, just, sincere, and committed to its obligations and moral principles. It encompasses elements of some other values, which makes it a rather broad, yet essential notion within the context of the AFP. This value is among the most important ones as it can assist with building a solid foundation for a highly moral and strong police force in Australian society that would carry out its duties not only effectively and efficiently but also objectively ethically. Integrity as the core value of the AFP can be easily revealed in the long-term perspective and success of its implementation by the AFP will depend on conscious decisions of all police officers. In case integrity becomes an essential value of the AFP traced through all operations and actions, it will ensure that the AFP is ethical and moral in its operations and that society can rely on the AFP for protection and safety.
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In turn, accountability stands for “ownership of work or results and being answerable for outcomes” (Australian Federal Police, 2015). This is the second most important value among the seven listed in the Corporate Report of the AFP. Accountability means the capacity and readiness of the AFP to take responsibility for its actions, decisions, and operations as well as their outcomes and impacts. Moreover, it means that the AFP is ready to acknowledge what it has done in order to achieve its goals, protect society from criminals, and bear accountability for the actions irrespective of whether they have benefitted or harmed stakeholders. It is not easy to take responsibility for all actions, especially the ones that either have failed to achieve a desirable outcome or that have had detrimental consequences. It is even more difficult to take this responsibility for an institution that has powers to hide consequences of these actions and silence those who are against this. It is especially difficult for the police officers to acknowledge their mistakes as they are the ones who are tasked with protecting society and their failure may harm the overall image of the AFP. However, it is essential for the AFP to realize that doubts and rumors covertly spread via social media or verbally by the public will harm the AFP’s reputation and turn society against the institution. Moreover, if citizens cannot trust the police, they will be unlikely to turn to them in case of need, which will benefit criminals. Society understands that the AFP is not able to catch all criminals and protect all citizens, which is why it is ready to tolerate mistakes and failures to some extent. The only thing it is not ready to tolerate is the lack of accountability and silencing of mistakes, which causes distrust and disrespect for the very people who will readily sacrifice their lives for protection of citizens.
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Thus, although all seven values listed in the Australian Federal Police Corporate Plan 2015-2019 are extremely important and should be followed and internalized by all police officers, integrity and accountability seem to be the two most important values. Together, these two values can provide a strong basis for all other values and ensure that daily decisions and operations of the AFP comply with moral principles and benefit Australian society. No matter how difficult it may be to take responsibility for mistakes and errors, the AFP should realize that it is not perfect and infallible, yet it does not have to strive to appear as such. Society is more likely to trust the AFP if it knows that the latter would readily acknowledge its failures and learn to avoid them in the future. In turn, integrity will ensure that this acquired knowledge and all other values are consistently implemented on a daily basis within a prolonged period.
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