Civil servants work within a wide range of ethical and other constraints which are taken very seriously by both senior staff and the wider public. One of our key skills, therefore, is to achieve our objectives whilst observing both the letter and the spirit of our various obligations.
To begin at the beginning, we work within a constitutional framework known as the Westminster Model which requires us to be politically impartial whilst being principally accountable only to Ministers within the current government. This complex and interesting subject is explored in greater depth here.
We also have an ethical code which requires us to be honest, impartial, challenging and collaborative. An extract (opposite) from a 1949 Handbook for the New Civil Servant summarises our ethics very well.
This section of the website goes onto more detail, and provides practical advice and explanation. Separate notes accordingly focus on:
- The Civil Service Code
- Integrity, conflicts of interest and financial interests
- Impartiality, including equality of treatment and political impartiality*
- Recruitment and Promotion
- Acceptance of Sponsorship by the private sector
- Judicial Review - including the obligation to obey all laws
- Human Rights
- Transparency and Freedom of Information
- Data Protection
*The impartiality page discusses the general requirement to act impartially when dealing with the general public as well as the practical implications of the need for political impartiality.
This 1949 induction advice remains a nice summary of some key examples of civil service ethical behaviour.