Police Powers Notes

Authors Avatar by zhilinglim27gmailcom (student)

Evaluate the protection given to persons taken into custody for questioning by the police. Do you think it is adequate?zl

The police are given various powers to investigate crime. However, it may be at the expense of individual’s rights. The laws are mainly contained in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE)1984 and the Codes of Practice. Before PACE, police powers was spread across 70 Acts of Parliaments which caused much confusion of what they could and couldn’t do, and may have led to police abusing powers.

Police have powers to stop and search people and vehicles in a public place under s1-7 of PACE. This includes car parks, and private gardens,( if the police officer has grounds to believe that the suspect does not live at that address). To use this power under PACE, the officer must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that the person is in possession of stolen articles. However, what amounts to ‘reasonable suspicion’ is very subjective and depends on the individual officer. As it is difficult for citizens to question police’s decisions, police are given a lot of powers under this act.

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However, in Osman v DPP, the officers failed to provide their name and station. Hence, it was held that the search of Mr Osman was unlawful. The requirement of providing the officer’s name and station protects the individual rights of citizens as it may deter police from abusing powers. However it is a weak and inadequate protection.

Under section 17 PACE, police are also given the powers to enter premises to make arrest. The capture of unlawful persons is necessary to protect society needs. However, this gives police a lot of powers as they can enter into any private property. ...

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