THE POLICE AND CRIMINAL EVIDENCE ACT 1984: BALANCING CIVIL LIBERTIES AND PUBLIC SECURITY

ABSTRACT

Police work is a balancing act. Its main purpose is to prevent and investigate offenses, i.e.
infringements of a person’s civil liberties. Simultaneously, the investigative powers needed for this,
such as stop and search, arrest, and detention, will interfere with other people’s civil liberties. To achieve this balance, laws are needed that provide the police with all the powers necessary to work efficiently and at the same time keep the infringement of civil liberties to a minimum. The Police and
Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) was passed to deal with this basic dilemma (Ozin et al. 2006). This essay aims to assess to what extent PACE manages to guarantee the interests of suspect, police, and victim during the pre-trial stages, for the use of investigative powers (stop and search, arrest,
detention, and questioning). It will be shown that PACE is an integral part of the criminal justice system for the police, the suspect and the victim. However, severe issues concerning the regulation of police powers still have to be addressed, especially in the light of recent political and social trends.
The question of whether the victim’s interests are satisfied by PACE is also discussed.

Keywords: Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, Civil Liberties, Regulating Police Powers, Human Rights, Criminal Justice System.

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