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Criminology & Criminal Justice: (Qs) What capacity do the police have to reduce crime? Free essay! Download now

Home > A Level > Sociology > Criminology & Criminal Justice: (Qs) What capacity do the police have to reduce crime?

Criminology & Criminal Justice: (Qs) What capacity do the police have to reduce crime?

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Criminology & Criminal Justice: (Qs) What capacity do the police have to reduce crime?


The Home Secretary in 1984, Leon Brittan, who was responsible for introducing PACE 1984, identified several reasons why the new statute was necessary. ‘First’, he stated in Parliament, ‘the present state of the law is unclear and contains many indefensible anomalies. Secondly, the police need to have adequate and clear powers to conduct the fight against crime on our behalf and the public need to have proper safeguards against any abuse of such powers if they are to have any confidence in the police.’ Such was the significance of the Bill, however, that Parliament was not prepared simply to accept what Brittan and Thatcher’s Government offered them. Much Parliamentary time was spent debating the bill, and it was a second version that actually passed. As Parpworth points out, however, the Actis not a codification of police powers. It does, however, ‘form the basis of many of the powers exercised by the police on a daily basis.’
PACE 1984, then, is a highly significant Act in that it provides the basis for many of the police’s powers. As well as the Act itself, sections 60 and 66 require the Secretary of State to issue codes of practice in connection with the exercising of various powers. So far, five such codes have been issued. These relate to the important powers of police to stop and search (Code A), searching premises and the seizure of property (Code B), detention, treatment and the questioning of suspects (Code C), identification matters (Code D), and tape-recording interviews with suspects (Code E). These codes, and any future ones which may be issued, find their main purpose in offering police officers further guidance on the proper exercise of powers granted to them under PACE 1984. Breach of these codes does not render the offending officer liable to charges (civil or criminal), nor does it necessarily lead to disciplinary proceedings (now that section 67(8) has been repealed).
Under PACE 1984, and subject to the appropriate Codes of Practice, what powers do the police actually have in the fight against crime? Perhaps the most significant is the power of stop and search (subject to Code A). as Hannibal and Mountford point out, these are so-called ‘general powers’, which can be used in a wide range of situations.’ This is, then, one of the most significant powers as it can be utilised at any stage of an investigation, so long as there is a suspicion of involvement in a criminal offence. Under section of the Act, the stop and search must be in connection with stolen or prohibited articles. This is supplemented by paragraph 1.1 of Code A which states that the power must be used ‘fairly, responsibly, and with respect for those being searched and without unlawful discrimination.’ A search can and will be deemed unlawful if the requirements of the Act are not complied with, as was shown in the case of Osman v Southwark Crown Court. Finally the power to stop and search must be exercised in accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998, which brought the European Convention on Human Rights into force. Article 5 of this guarantees the right to liberty and security of the person.

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