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The Code Of Practice (CoP) was created by a series of meetings across the UK during l981/2, during which many then established UFO groups met to self determine standards of ethics, conduct and responsibility. It advises and sometimes directs upon appropriate actions when dealing with witnesses, the authorities, other UFOlogists and the public. This voluntarily agreed Code helps to preserve common sense, moral behaviour and responsible principles within a field too often riddled with self interest and lack of concern for those effected by UFO activity.
The CoP was originally drafted by the following organisations - UFO Investigators Network (UFOIN), British UFO Research Association (BUFORA), Northern UFO Network (NUFON), Manchester UFO Research Association (MUFORA later renamed NARO), plus several new defunct associations - NUFOIS (Nottingham), SCUFORI (Swindon) and PROBE (Bristol). Contact UK also participated in some stages of the discussions. The Code was offered to the community at home and abroad and was accepted in a modified form by some other bodies including the paranormal research team ASSAP.
The Code has since been updated on several occasions by both UFOIN and BUFORA. The version below was agreed by the founder members of the short-lived revival of UFOIN in l999; the version presently followed by BUFORA A.I's by the early 2000's (albeit not by certain BUFORA council members who nonetheless engage in investigatory activities!) is fairly similar.
A. The CoP is intended to offer guidance, advice and where appropriate mandatory actions to preserve rational, objective and ethical investigation of UFOs and witnesses.
B. The version that follows is agreed by the group adopting this Code to be a binding set of principles for all team members to follow.
C. The CoP should be adhered to wherever possible by all the group's investigators. Any person may bring to the attention of the group an alleged breach of this Code by one of its team. Both the complainant and the group member accused will have the opportunity to offer a statement to all other group members, who shall decide by majority vote on any action deemed necessary.
Except where specifically stated, words shall have the commonly accepted meaning, all cases of doubt to be resolved by reference to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary.
(a) Reference to the singular includes the plural, and vice versa.
(b) Must indicates mandatory action on the part of the investigator.
(c) Shall or should indicates strongly recommended (but discretionary) action by the investigator.
(d) Desirable indicates preferable action by the investigator.
(e) A original report is the report made and filed by the investigator and may contain confidential material. An edited report is one cleared for general distribution and publication, and may have been edited or rewritten. It must not contain any confidential material.
(f) Confidential information shall mean information not to be disclosed according to all existing laws of the land regarding personal information and its publication, as well as material deemed confidential by clauses of the CoP itself.
(g) Publication includes UFO and other periodicals, newspapers, circulars, news media, books, and electronic media (e-mail, web sites, etc.).
1: - Responsibility to the Witness.
1.1 The identity of the witness to a UFO event must be deemed confidential and can not be disclosed - especially to media sources such as TV and newspapers - unless specific and recent consent is obtained from the witness.
Confidential material includes the name of the witness, home address or place of work, telephone numbers, or other data that may allow the identity of the witness to be ascertained.
1.2 The witness should be counselled about the potential consequences of the public disclosure of details such as those above. Their decision on disclosure or non disclosure must be regarded as binding.
1.3 Insofar as is practical, all interviews shall be by prior appointment. If a witness declines immediate assistance via an interview or appointment then their wishes must be accepted.
1.4 It is desirable that all interviews shall be conducted by two investigators, and in the event of the witness being a woman or minor (under 16 years of age) that one of those present is female.
1.5 All requests by the witness (or, in the case of a minor, a parent or other responsible person) for a third party to be present during an interview must be honoured.
1.6 If the witness refuses to co-operate in any way, or to meet another investigator, their decision must be accepted, the option for further contact resting with the witness.
1.7 An investigator must not enter or attempt to enter any private property without the permission of the owner, tenant (or occupier) or authorised agent.
1.8 Any damage to property caused by an investigator during the course of an investigation (for which the investigator admits liability) shall be made good by that investigator without the need to be asked to do so.
1.9 Specialised techniques, or equipment unfamiliar to the witness must not be used during the interview other than by clearly stated consent (which should be obtained in writing). The use of any such aid or aids shall be restricted to interviews conducted by fully qualified practitioners with a publicly acceptable mandate to use such methods.
1.10 The witness is entitled to be informed of the conclusions reached by the investigation if he or she so requests.
1.11 Due consideration should always be given to the health and welfare of the witness. If it is ever suspected this may suffer by continued investigation work must be suspended or abandoned forthwith.
1.12 The Code Of Practice regards the technique of regression hypnosis to be wholly unsuitable during the investigation of a case. It must never be used.
If a witness approaches and requests such a method the investigator is obligated to explain the reasons for our decision not to employ the technique. They must acquaint the witness with the generally accepted psychological debate regarding its nature, possible long term effects - such as adaptation of memory - and our absolute ban upon its use. If the witness insists upon taking the matter further they should be directed not to any other UFOlogist but to a medically qualified practioner. If the witness still then decides to proceed with regression hypnosis via another source the investigation must be concluded.
2: - Responsibility to the public.
2.1 All investigators must co-operate fully with police and any other official body, particularly in circumstances which may affect national security or matters of life, death and injury to other persons.
2.2 If, during any investigation, a situation is encountered which is, or is liable to become, dangerous to the general public, or result in damage to property, the investigator must without delay notify the police or other responsible body and take all reasonable steps to protect public and property.
2.3 Investigators are reminded that they have no special privilege and may be required to disclose confidential information to a court of law. If such matters of jurisprudence intervene other clauses of the CoP are temporarily superseded.
2.4 UFO investigators must at all times weigh their responsibility to inform the public about UFOs against the often different requirements of the news media. The issuing of unsupported statements, expression of theories lacking in evidence and non objective speculations about cases should be refrained from. If an opportunity is taken to offer a rational perspective on the phenomenon via a public forum it should always be recalled that you are representing both your group and scientific UFO research. You must strive to do so in a responsible manner.
2.5 The credibility of a witness or colleague should not be impugned in public unless the evidence and community interest provides an overwhelming mandate. You should always be prepared to justify this act, if necessary, to the rest of the UFO investigation team.
3: - Responsibility to UFOlogy.
3.1 The free flow of information shall not be restricted for personal gain. UFO investigators will inform colleagues of their work in progress and allow its use upon publication by other responsible members of the UFO community. This is subject to the provision that these other parties reciprocate with due credit to source. UFO members may use information for their own purposes, e.g. to write articles and books, but must not inappropriately delay release of information to the UFO community to further such aims.
3.2 Full credit must always be given to colleagues and other sources whose work you draw upon, unless they have expressly requested not to be identified.
3.3 Interviews conducted during an investigation shall - where practicable - be recorded on audio tape, video tape or other recording device. However, if the use of a recorder is objected to by the witness (or other responsible person in the case of a minor) written documentation should be as thorough as circumstances allow. This should also be properly transcribed as soon as possible after the interview.
3.4 All case reports should indicate the persons present, their status, and their relationship to the witness/witnesses during any interviews.
3.5 Any information, confidential because of factors inherent within this Code, must not be made available in the edited report. Only the edited report should be made available for external use.
3.6 The identity of a witness must be regarded as confidential and not included in the edited report unless the witness initiates self disclosure. If any doubt persists protection of the witness should override all other considerations. To fully protect witnesses in sensitive occupations, investigators may need to restrict from some parts of UFOlogy details of the time, place and other circumstances surrounding the incident - especially those that might allow the tracing of a witness who has required non disclosure of their identity.
3.7 The first priority of any investigation must be to allow a witness to tell their story without intervention. An investigator should not discuss personal theories regarding the case or the phenomenon with a witness during the course of the initial investigation. If such details are discussed at a later point they should be emphasised as a theory and supported with any objective evidence available. In the report to the UFO community personal theories regarding a witness or a case should be clearly indicated as such and separated from the main facts of the investigation.
Declaration of the adoption of the Code of Practice.
I, the undersigned, have read and understood the Code of Practice for UFO investigators and state that:
1. I will conform to its clauses and principles when engaged in UFO investigations or research;
2. I understand that I may be required to give account to the rest of the group should a breach of the Code be alleged for which I am held responsible.
Full name (printed):
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