The Police and Criminal Evidence Acts 1984-provides an effective balance between the powers of the police and safe guards provided for suspects.

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Yasmin White                                                                       27th September 2002           

The Police and Criminal Evidence Acts 1984-provides an effective balance between the powers of the police and safe guards provided for suspects

One of the fundamental civil liberties is the right to freedom of your person from detention, and your property from seizure, without lawful cause. Recognition if this right goes back centuries in the history of Britain. Its fundamental expression is in the statement that we live in a country where one of the basic principles of the constitution is that our affairs shall be carried on under "the rule of law". In Entick v Carrington (1765) 19 St Tr 1030 Lord Chief Justice Camden set out the basic principle that anyone who invades another's private property is guilty of an offence unless they can show a justification for having done so.

The recognition of the right to liberty of the person, and freedom from interference with private property, underpins the torts of trespass to land and trespass to the person. It also underlies the defence to a charge of assault that the person was acting in self-defence against an unlawful detention. False imprisonment is based on the idea that there must be no deprivation of personal liberty without lawful authority.

The powers given to the police to act to maintain public order and to prevent criminal acts and to apprehend and bring forward for punishment those who commit criminal acts, pose the greatest threat to liberty of the person. In their pursuit of evidence of wrongdoing, the police also have wide-ranging powers to enter and search private premises - in what would, barring the consent of the owner/occupier, otherwise amount to trespass - and to seize and take away private property found there.

It is essential that if the police are to be given wide-ranging powers to interfere with personal liberty and private property, they should have to exercise these powers under strict controls so that the interference goes no further than the minimum required to satisfy the competing public interest. The individual’s personal rights regarding their property and personal freedom must be respected though.

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE 1984)

There was a great deal of criticism of the government’s legislative proposals. The central question was whether the Law provided, as the government claimed, sufficiently strong safeguards in the form of detailed procedures to be complied with if the police action was to be regarded as lawful. This doubt was justified when the Maxwell Confait case in the 1970’s came to light to the public:

Maxwell was a male prostitute, found dead-strangled with electrical flex. Three teenage boys-ages 16-17 (mental age of around 13)-were bought in for questioning. After police questioned them they confessed to the murder. They were charged and sent to prison.

Just 6 months after, the boys were released from prison-evidence proved that it was impossible for the boys to have committed the crime. This miscarriage of justice demanded a change to be made in the law over the amount of powers that the police hold.

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Significance of this case on the image of the British police system:

Before the 1970’s the image of the police was idealistic-they were portrayed to have good social skills etc. The British police were the only group of police officers that did not carry around a gun, this suggests that the police doesn’t have to resort to violence to stop crimes.

The Maxwell Confait case was broadcast nationally, and this shattered the image of the police. They were no longer respected and this caused major riots etc. A change was to have to be made to ...

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A good example of where a student has failed to properly consider the question set and instead provides a description of the law. 3 Stars.