This paper explores the role of discretion policing in United Kingdom. It looks at the benefits of police discretion in UK. And finally draws how police discretion may or may not be used in the current world of UK.
Since time in memorial, there has been a conflict in enforcing the law between enforcing the spirit of the law and the letter of the law. Should a police officer every little aspect of law violation he sees, or should the officer use his time pursuing crimes that the community justly wants see punished? The whole concept of the grey area is where the issue of police discretion falls in. The definition: Because no policy or law can justly envisage all possible situations the police officer may face in the field, police officers have the suppleness or flexibility in handling the scenario they encounter. Police discretion is the judgment the police officers apply in the field, whether it is taking somebody to jail for a petty offense since they could be a danger to others or to themselves or it could be letting a person go after a stem lecture.
Police discretion is not absolute: The police officers do not have loose discretion when handing with crimes, as a matter of fact, police officers must abide by the rule of law. For instance a police officer may not assume homicide. Police discretion is bounded by standards (community norms, moral norms, legal norms and professional norms). Though officers are able to apply their judgment, they still have laws to abide by. It goes without saying that is not possible for a police officer to apprehend all over-speeding driver, in any case, all driver may get pulled over. The police officers apply discretion in respect to certain crimes too. The most often comprise drunk driving, domestic violence, crimes associated with mentally insane and potential hate crimes.
Complex variables: police officers can implement discretion in circumstances where the people or facts concerned don’t essentially line up with the rule of law. A domestic circumstance between some couple who are in any case law abiding citizens would be compromised or resolved by the police officer taking one of them way, but not exercising an arrest.
Discretion in cases which are less serious: not astoundingly, discretion is applied far more in simple vandalism or speeding cases than rape or homicide cases. The police officers think that petty offenses are an issue to do with educating citizens, while serious crimes warrant the proper punishment of the law.
The police, being officers of the state have the role of investigating a crime. In fact, police officers observe this as fundamental to their duty, although in actual sense, the work that consumes huge chunk of their time is the non-investigative work. In applying this work, the officers at their disposal is a great deal of discretion. The primary power of a police officer comes from the rank of the office constable. This implies that the officer doesn’t merely perform his or her duties in a similar manner to a casual employee. Moreover, the role at hand also extends itself to the application of discretion. Although the officers are intended to investigate crimes, not all crimes that are identified are anticipated to develop into formal actions. The primary role of the police officer is to maintain peace and order, which again needs common sense and sensitivity as oppose to legal actions every step of the way.
During crime investigation, the major options of strategies have been offered as between proactive and reactive policing.
The reactive approach entails the officer in responding to the general public calls for assistance. It has the merit that the officers work overtly and in response to the actual demand of the public and with public consent. When the officers are not responding to calls, they are expected to be patrolling openly to dissuade wrongdoing. Traditionally, the officers have approached policing in this fashion, and it is significant to note that a lot of crimes are reported by, and identified on the platform of information from the members of the general public. The officers heavily rely on the public cooperation. This is ideally more significant that the legal prowess to detect crimes, though it has been noted that the strategy, particularly patrolling is highly inefficient. The officers in very rare occasions bump into criminals who perhaps could be on their way back home from housebreak.
The proactive approach entails establishing pictures of coercion to the harmony and the possible criminality by pursuing likely criminals and the surveillances of the same. Intelligence is critical so that fear and threats can be detected and considerable counter-actions are taken. Good or not good enough, this information may not or may be gotten from the public at large. This kind of policing inclines to involve squads which are specialist, for example, fraud squads and drugs that are dependent on the assessment of the information from the informants and the patterns of crimes.
The demerits with this kind of policing are that it is highly secretive and results into minimal accountability and that targets may the chosen out of malice and prejudice.
In actual sense, both kinds of policing are exercised at the same time and there is a concession between them. However, reactive policing and patrolling is suggested to have an inadequate effect against professional or serious crime that should be the proactive policing target. Nonetheless, public reassurance and tranquility are significant objectives that can be dealt with by strategies, for example, visible patrols. This duality of goals is mirrored in the primary national goals set by the Home Office for the police. The Homes Secretary’s primary goals for policing focus on the core issues which are fundamental to the general public. These objectives include:
To deal effectively and speedily with young offenders and to collaborate with some agencies to curb re-offending;
To target and minimize local concerns of disorder and crime in conjunction with the public, local authorities and other local agencies;
To target drug-linked crime in corporation with some local agencies
To maintain or if possible, raise the number of units of identifying crimes which are violent
To raise the number of units of detection for burglaries of public homes
To counter emergency calls from the public promptly.
The discretion provides advantage to the general police task in support of the society objectives since it is responsive to the requirements of the environment in which the officer’s duties function. It offers for the rapid, in some cases spilt second, decision deliberation process that is engaged. It permits for a certain level of vagueness of the law, and as a result giving the officers the room to handle marginal scenario as best caters for the immediate requirement of the situation. Police discretion helps in minimizing the number of resources essential to deliver an operational criminal justice system. This advantage occurs in as much as the application of discretion doesn’t become uncontrolled. The unchecked application of discretion could probably result into the violation of the significant personal rights protected by the law. The relationship between the community and the police is as a result destroyed. The modest ways of controlling discretion are instituted in the development of policies and procedures and the implementation of those laws that establish logical restrain on the application of discretion. Police discretion should not, indeed, can’t be gotten rid of for the numerous premises noted as merits of police discretion.
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