"Mark Has Been Arrested for Theft of a Bottle Of aspirins From His Local Chemist" Describe the Pre-Trial Procedure and the Key Decisions That Must Be Made.

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“Mark Has Been Arrested for Theft of a Bottle Of aspirins From His Local Chemist” Describe the Pre-Trial Procedure and the Key Decisions That Must Be Made.

The criminal justice process and police work is rooted in discretionary factors of the police officers. (Davis, Croall, Tyrer 1996: p106)  The police are responsible for the important decisions made as to whether the suspect is to be prosecuted or diverted from the criminal justice process. Some of these decisions are influenced by the police occupational culture and the negative stereotypes of criminal behaviour. In addition, these prejudices can affect the decisions to arrest, charge and prosecute.

After the decision to prosecute has been made the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) replace the role of the police and independently assess the prosecution decisions. Additional decisions about Mark’s future will be made once he reaches the magistrates courts.


This essay will explore the various pre-trial procedures within the legal framework, the discretionary factors of the police and the key decisions that could be made by both Mark as the suspect and the police officers involved in the case.

Studies by Cain (1973) into how the police exercise their discretion show a wide variety of circumstances that can affect the decision to arrest.  For example, the officer may feel that Mark’s offence is relatively minor.  He may be at the end of the shift and does not want to be delayed by paperwork or the extra workload. Conversely, the officer may make an arrest as it is a cold and wet night and he would like to return to the comfort of the police station. (Cain 1973 cited in Davis et al 1996: p107)

 Studies by McConville, Sanders, Lang (1991) identified that the police have informal “working rules” that can influence decision making. Whether a suspect is arrested or charged can be based on several premises. Firstly, if Mark is, known to the police he is more likely to be arrested and charged. For Example, McConville found that “no more need be known about someone than the fact that the person has been previously convicted” (McConville et al: p22) Secondly, Mark will be arrested if the officer perceives him to be a threat to police authority. For instance, if he is drunk, abusive to the officer and generally disorderly, the police officer may see this as a challenge to his authority. Other working rules include the wishes of the victim, acting suspiciously and as previously mentioned workload.


Finally, the decisions taken about Mark will invariably depend on the cultural cues as discussed by Davis et al. (1996: p111). The police, like most occupations, share a particular world view with shared attitudes, values and expectations.  They have a set of expectations and stereotypes of what constitutes suspicious and criminal behaviour.  These stereotypes are based on perceptions of race, gender, age, and even social class. The officer’s decision to arrest and charge may well, unconsciously, depend on these perceptions and stereotypes.  For example, if Mark gives his address in an affluent middle class suburb as apposed to the local housing estate this may well affect the officer’s decision to arrest, charge or caution. (Davis et al: p 119)

Once the officer has made the decision to arrest, Mark will be taken to the police station. The next step in the pre-trial procedure is the taken over by the role of the custody officer.

The custody officer has many responsibilities and will be a key player in the decisions made about Mark as soon as he enters the police station. He is accountable for Mark’s welfare. As soon as is practicable after his arrival the custody officer must open and maintain a custody record. In theory, it is the custody officer who decides if there is enough evidence to prosecute. S/He must impartially evaluate the evidence and decide if there is enough to charge him. If the evidence is insufficient then Mark must be released unless s/he believes detention is necessary to secure evidence or to obtain evidence by interviewing. However, in reality the evidence is collected and presented by the arresting officer. If the arresting officer wants to have Mark charged rarely will the custody officer challenge his decision. (McConville, et al. 1991: p 42)

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However, before the decision to charge can be made, Mark and any witnesses, in this case a store detective, have to be interviewed. In the interview Mark claims he intended to pay for the aspirin but the store detective apprehended him before he had a chance to do so. His solicitor has told him they will contest his guilt in court. Conversely, The store detective claims Mark has been in the shop everyday for the past week. He claims Mark has been taking expensive perfumes but he was unable to “catch him in the act” and only noticed the ...

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