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About Us

The Standards Commission is an independent body whose purpose is to encourage high ethical standards in public life through the promotion and enforcement of Codes of Conduct for councillors and those appointed to the boards of devolved public bodies.

New Codes of Conduct Issued

8th December 2021

The Codes of Conduct for councillors and members of devolved public bodies in Scotland have been strengthened to make it clear that behaviour such as bullying and harassment is completely unacceptable.

Provisions relating to the acceptance of gifts and hospitality have also been tightened to ensure that individuals do not try to profit from their position as a councillor or board member, and to ensure they are not being improperly influenced.

Further, a new three-stage test has been introduced to help individuals identify when they have a conflict of interest, or a potential conflict, which they must declare.

The provisions on lobbying have also been clarified, to protect the integrity and reputation of decision-making processes.

As with previous versions, the Codes are based on the key principles of public life (commonly known as ‘the Nolan principles’), namely: duty, selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability & stewardship, openness, honesty, respect and leadership.

The new Codes come into immediate effect following a review by a working group comprising representatives from the Scottish Government, public bodies, councils, COSLA and the Standards Commission.

Speaking about the revised Codes, Lorna Johnston, Executive Director, said:

“At a time where the conduct of those in public life is under increasing scrutiny, we welcome the revised, strengthened Codes, especially the provisions on bullying and harassment.

“It is clear from our public Hearings that a culture of disrespect or bullying damages working relationships and undermines public confidence. This, in turn, impacts upon on the effective running of public organisations.

“We hope that these new, strengthened provisions will help to embed a culture of respect within Scottish local authorities and public bodies.”

The Standards Commission has updated its Guidance and produced Advice Notes for councillors and board members – these can be accessed from the appropriate menu above.