The Balance Between Police Powers And Detainees RightsThe police has usually been referred to as institution, which has to seek for balance between own duties and the liberties of individuals, involved in the execution of these duties. The significance of balancing has been emphasized in separate sections of The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), dated by 1984. This document is a foundation of criminal justice system across England and Wales, that is why the exploration of English approach to police powers concerning detention of suspects should be conducted through examination of PACE with relevant updates and comments. Though it is worth facing that the balance in police power in suspects detention at the police station is a controversial issue, this essay demonstrates that the liberties of individuals are frequently neglected, which is associated with the legitimizing function of PACE without regulations of police powers.
The criteria for keeping a suspect at the police station are estimated by the necessity and reasonably, however, these criteria are not precise and may be appropriated in accordance with officers purpose. The first passages of PACE articulate that a person shall not be kept in police detention for more than 24 hours without being charged. However, there are special conditions, when the period of arrest without a change can be prolonged. According to Hoffman and Rowe, it may be prolonged for 12 hours by a senior police officer, and, then, by a magistrate to the period of 96 hours maximum. The availability of sufficient evidence is what is meant by reasonability of the detention, but still, it is defined by the investigating police officer, whereas decision to charge the suspect is made by a custody officer. Next, the suspect should be taken before a magistrate or a judge, who decides whether the individual may be released on bail. This guideline may be interpreted differently, and even opposite assertions on the fairness of these guideline may be found. While some believe that availability of procedural rules for each participant of the detention process completely guarantees the liberties of the suspect, the fairness of 96 hours arrest without a charge makes one raise the question of the extent, to which the suspect is protected in this case. Mylonki confirms the skepticism towards the sufficiency of evidence to detent a suspect: the reasonableness of belief is a question of degree in the circumstances of what information the arresting officer gives There have been a variety of cases, when a custody officer authorized a detention without meeting a test, though, a custody officer is instructed only to recite the grounds. It makes believe that PACE legitimizes police actions, but does not define the ways and limits of the police power, though emphasizes the need for articulating those limits.
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Since a police station is a zone of the police powers, the rights and liberties of the detainees are substantially limited in there. As the task of the police is to investigate the crime, the purposes of the investigation and, in particular, of investigators (the police officers) are the priority. The cases of detentions, where race is emphasized, demonstrate that the police officers are usually blind to the needs of the suspects, such as towards the detainees with mental disorders, despite the guarantees, provided in PACE itself and in other codes. Newburn and Reiner define this situation as a ritualized observation on the rules, stated in PACE, but without effect of this code on actual regulation of the police powers and detainees rights protection. This point is also found in Choongh, who called police station a police territory, characterized by imbalance of power, which is illustrated by depersonalization of the detainee. Overall, it may be concluded that the rights of a detainee are subordinated to the actions and interests of the police. The researchers cite the rates of deaths during detention at the police station as the example of imbalance: in 6% of cases, where application of force was contributing to detainees death, the formulation by a custody officer was that it was resulted detainees violent struggle with the police.
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PACE represents a formulaic approach, which may be manipulated by the police to justify and legitimize its actions, also reliability of police self-regulation is not assured. Roberts reported a case, when the time limits of detention were extended with the needed authorities, however, the matter is that the police used time limits from the later time of the station instead of actual detention time. ODoherty confirms that the rules of PACE allow opportunity to neglect the safeguard of detainees rights because it is not clear if the person, responsible for decisions to time extension endorse the custody record. Dixon confirms that few requirements must be met to justify early extension of 24-hours detention time, which proves the gaps in the legislation for the sake of procedural benefits of the police. Hence, the researchers face that PACE serves to legitimizes some actions of the police, without essential definitions of sufficiency of evidence, and the executions of police power beyond sufficient, which is presented in routine practice.
The above-mentioned analysis of crucial responsibilities of the police and rights of the individuals, according to PACE, demonstrates that this Act legitimizes the actions of the police, while neglecting the rights of the individuals. The formulations of the Act are vague, do not shed light on the criteria of evidence sufficiency and manifest the priority of the police power, which subordinate the detainees. In particular, the easiness in increasing the detention without charge reflects the scope of police powers. To improve the situation, the criteria of sufficiency of evidence and the increased opportunity of monitoring the detainee are recommended.