A theory of ethics for forensic psychiatry.

The difference between a trade and a profession is that the latter possesses a self-imposed code of conduct to which its members agree to submit. Such codes are usually ethical based and not imposed by outside legislations and hence members of each profession voluntarily adhere to such codes the members of a profession adhere to such codes. It is need-of-the-hour that each profession should create its set of codes that is a system of self-regulation. In absence of such self-regulatory codes, governments fill the gaps by imposing legal rules which are far less appropriate and suffer from serious shortcomings. The number of professionals working in the field of forensic science is relatively low in comparison to those working in other fields such as medicine and law. Since the interface between science and criminal justice system is filled by forensic scientists, therefore, many owe allegiance to other professional bodies. (Knight 1989; Murdock and Holmes 1991).

Forensic scientists help law enforcement officers, lawyers, judges, and juries in delivering justice by providing results and conclusion; hence they work in forensic science laboratories associated with law enforcement or other governmental agencies that have ethical codes developed specifically for their organizations. These codes address those areas of professional behavior that are important to the bulk of the people within that agency. Be it a police or prosecutor agency, ethical codes will be designed for police officers and prosecutors respectively. Since ethical codes are organization-specific and are applied partly to forensic scientists, then there is a need to establish codes that are specific to forensic scientists. Such codes will guide them in a situation where ethical issues arise from the type of work the criminalist does. What is ethical to one forensic scientist may be unethical to another and yet to another, therefore, in such situations; these codes may help to guide them to them to the most appropriate course of action. Moreover, such ethical codes stand for the hallmark of the professional status (Barnett 2001).

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