States have an obligation to protect themselves and their citizens from harm, and they use the coercive powers of law to investigate threats, enforce rules and arbitrate disputes, thereby impacting on people’s well-being and legal rights and privileges. Psychologists as a collective have a responsibility to use their abilities, knowledge, skill and experience to enhance law’s effectiveness, efficiency, and reliability in preventing harm, but their professional behaviour in this collaboration must be moral. They could, however, find their personal values to be inappropriate or there to be insufficient moral guides and could find it difficult to obtain definitive moral guidance from law. The profession’s ethical principles do, however, provide well-articulated, generally accepted and profession-appropriate guidance, but practitioners might encounter moral issues that can only be solved by the profession as a whole or society.
Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, Volume 25, 2018 – Issue 3