Jamie Lorimer

Law and the legal system

How police activities are controlled by the law and the effects of civilian and military law on the armed forces

Task 1

The police are controlled by the law just like any other member of public. They will be prosecuted for selling drugs. They will be fined for dropping litter. They will not be let off lightly for any type of crime. Aside from civilian law though there are also laws inside the police force. The police are controlled by PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984). This ‘law’ is split up in 6 different codes;

  • Code A – Stop and search
  • Code B – Searching premises and seizing property
  • Code C – Detention, treatment and questioning
  • Code D – Identification
  • Code E – Audio recording of suspects
  • Code F – Visual recording of suspects

Examples of police abusing their powers:

  • Enter premises, ie...Trespass
  • Force confessions
  • Take and change evidence
  • Take away people’s rights.

An example of the police abusing their powers would be the Birmingham six, these were six men who were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975 in an infamous miscarriage of justice for two pub bombings in Birmingham that killed 24 people. Their convictions were overturned by the Court of appeal on March 15, 1991 largely on the basis that traces of nitro-glycerine found on their bodies could have come from innocuous sources such as soap. The judge at the appeal famously declared of the police witnesses at the original trial “they must have lied”. When the six men were in custody they were beaten and forced to give statements.

Explanations of each of the general police powers:

Stop and search – This comes under sections 1 – 7 and comes under code A. of the police and criminal evidence act 1984. This gives the police the power to stop and search people and vehicles for stolen goods and offensive weapons on the basis of reasonable suspicion in a public place. Public place not only means in the street but also extends to places such as car parks and even private gardens. If an officer wants to stop and search they must advise (these are safe guards) –

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  • The law under which they are stopping or searching you.
  • Their name and police station
  • What they are looking for
  • The reason for the stop (unless it’s a terrorist stop)
  • They should also advise that the subject has the right to be given a record of the search.
  • Advise the subject that they are detained for the duration of the stop.

       The police must have a limit on these powers because it could start to get out of hand, because the police for example must have reasonable grounds to stop and search; ...

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