The CIPR this week changed its code of conduct allowing it to take action against a member even if a complaint has not been received from another member. The move was revealed at its national conference in London this Wednesday.
The CIPR's president and director-general now have more power to investigate suspected malpractice or abuse, and to put in place sanctions against a member deemed to have behaved unethically, 2006 president Tony Bradley told delegates.
The ultimate action would be to expel members, he said.
Bradley told PRWeek: ‘The watchdog has finally got some teeth. This move shows we are more confident and brings us in line with other chartered institutes.'
He added: ‘If we decide to take a stand then we will make sure we publicise that as much as possible. We want it to be the equivalent of a doctor being struck off.'
CIPR guidelines on social media are also in the pipeline, delegates were told.