A Discussion Into Police Roles

The way in which the police exercise their powers to the general public is based on various rules and regulations. Police need their powers in order to fulfil certain public duties; these include stopping and searching, to enter a suspect's house if they are believed to be harbouring a fugitive or holding stolen goods. They must also be able t arrest suspects take them to a police station for questioning and if needed hold them in custody. However, the everyday normal member of the public must be able to live their lives without the fear of being wrongly arrested or detained.

They must also be free from torture, police brutality and being made to give false confessions even if they are guilty of the crime. Therefore it is obvious to think that when creating legislation they must create an equal balance between police powers and public liberty. In 1978 the royal commission on criminal procedure (RCCP) was set up. It felt that the way in which police powers were controlled were to sparse, one example of this is that there were over 70 statues under which police had powers to stop and search.

It also felt that crime investigation should be separated from criminal prosecution. This spawned the creation of the crown prosecution service in the 1980's. Before it's creation the police and the director of prosecutions were the ones in charge of the procedure. Therefore, the police acted as both the investigator and the and the prosecutors. One major concern was that the police would not gather sufficient information to prosecute, and may sometimes force false confessions in order to convict a suspected criminal.

In 1984 the Police and Criminal Evidence act (PACE) was created. Its task was to modernise the law that governed police powers. Two of its major innovations included tape recording at interviews, and making it compulsory for police to take records of arrests, custody and any other dealings with the public. The police force is constantly changing through time, adapting to social occurrences etc for example, armed police are far more common due to the ever-increasing threat of international terrorism.

Police relationships with the community depend on the nature and role of the force. Development can drastically change the relations for the better or for the worse. An obvious example of which is that with the ever-increasing ownership of vehicles, police roles have had to change, in order to tackle traffic control and enforcement of the roads. The middle class members of the community found themselves the target of police activity. As they were committing minor crimes such as speeding. This inevitably led to the worsening of relationships between the police and the community.

Technological development has also aided the development of police roles. For example DNA analysis means that any DNA left by the attacker can easily identify suspects for serious crimes such as rape. They can also radio for immediate backup. It was a vast improvement from a police officer patrolling an area on foot with only a truncheon and whistle for backup, which is no considered inefficient. However, information from the public was greater in those days as the officer had a direct relationship with the public.

Whereas two police officers in a car maybe able to catch more criminals easier, they are seen as less personal and so the public is less likely to give up valuable information. ' The police forces role vastly changed during the 1970's and 1980's, as there was a sudden increase in urban riots and industrial disputes. Police needed to be trained to deal with crowd control and riots. But the tactics used by these new forces came under much scrutiny and were dubbed paramilitary tactics. Davis,corall and tyler (1995) Criminal justice- an introduction to criminal justice in England and Wales, London, Longman.