Again, this Code was introduced with the express intention of reducing the opportunity for disputes pertaining to the way in which police interviews and interrogations have been implemented and it involves the addition of video recording to the taped interview accounts. Whilst the video recording of interviews, as with the taped recordings, may reduce the amount of disagreements related to what was said during an interview and the way in which it was extracted, this code suffers from many of the problems that Code E suffers from; mainly the concept of what occurs outside of the recorded interview.
In addition to this, the availability of videotapes has revealed further issues related to the actual quality of the police interviews. John Baldwin, a Professor of Law from Birmingham University, conducted research based upon 600 recorded police interviews between the years 1989 and 1990 . His findings revealed that the quality of the police questioning during the interviews was not of a satisfactory standard.
He also commented that improvements in questioning techniques were focused on establishing police power as opposed to improving the manner of questioning and he felt that the interviews that he observed did not give the suspect a fair and reasonable opportunity to discuss the facts with the officers: Legal advisors and their clients are bound to be relatively powerless in a situation within which it is the police officers who decide when an interview takes place, how it is to be conducted and for how long. Interviews take place on police territory and on police terms.
Police officers can even determine who sits where in the interview room and they may deliberately prevent eye contact between legal representatives by physically bolting the chairs to the floor. Baldwin’s findings reveal further issues with the fairness of the ways in which interviews are conducted. By maintaining a position of power the officers have an advantage over the suspects and it can therefore be argued that the laws of PACE are not enforcing conduct that encourages fair and reliable interview techniques.
Code G: Powers of Arrest Code G of PACE is related to the statutory powers of arrest and applies to situations that involve someone committing an arrestable offence (where the potential sentence is at least five years in prison). In order to arrest a suspect the police need to have reasonable grounds upon which to make their charges. Again, the concept of what does, and doesn’t, constitute reasonable grounds emerges and within this area.
PACE clearly affords Police Officers discretionary powers that may lead to injustice. In the case of O’Hara v. Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary the judge ruled that reasonable grounds did not include instructions from senior officers to make an arrest and that the arresting officer themselves are required to have sufficient knowledge to make that arrest. However, the law in this area remains unclear and ambiguous. The cases of R vs. Self and Castorina v Chief Constable of Surrey are examples of this.
The former case involved an off duty policeman who had been arrested on suspicion of theft and later charged with resisting arrest. During his hearing he was acquitted of the theft charges and subsequently relinquished of the charges pertaining to resisting arrest on the grounds that the arrest had not been lawful. In the later case, however, the judge ruled that there did not need to be satisfactory grounds upon which an arrest could be made, there had to be enough facts to lead an ordinary person to believe the defendant had committed a crime.
Here, as we have seen with the implementation of some of the previous PACE Codes, the lack of clarity pertaining to the interpretation of the codes coupled with their ambiguous nature entails that it can be very difficult to ensure that the are implemented in a fair, even and consistent manner. As with the stop and search elements of PACE, the laws of arrest have faced heavy criticism and there are strong opinions that they are not implemented in a fair and even manner.
Part IX: Police Complaints and Discipline Prior to the implementation of PACE, public confidence in procedures for the investigation of complaints against the police was very low. The police investigated complaints against the police and the process utilised for such investigations was the same regardless of the severity of the complaint. PACE introduced the Police Complaints Authority, an independent body that has the right to investigate any serious complaints that are leveraged against the police.
This was aimed at improving the public’s confidence in the police force and discouraging any practices that could impinge upon the fair execution of PACE regulations. Whilst research conducted by Judith Cotton in 2004 revealed that 70% of complaints against Police Officers were successfully resolved , prior evidence, including the 1999 Macpherson report that was generated in response to the Steven Lawrence Enquiry revealed that a lack of confidence in the system for dealing with police complaints remained prevalent in English society.
It would therefore appear that PACE itself has not adequately implemented a system for complaints handling within which the public have faith and belief. Without this there is no real method by which the regulations can be adequately enforced and the fair and reliable implementation of interrogation and investigation procedures assured. Conclusion It is clear from this analysis that the key areas of PACE have gone a long way towards creating a police system that is capable of increasing the effectiveness of the law to ensure that members of the public are treated fairly during an criminal investigation process.
One of the biggest achievements within this area is the heightened knowledge of human rights that has been provided to society as a whole and review of some of the case law here has demonstrated that, in some cases, such a knowledge has aided people to ensure that their rights are respected. However, whilst people may be more aware of some of the legislation that is aimed at protecting their rights, there remains a distinct lack of clarity in some areas caused by ambiguity in the wording of the laws.
Here, it seems, police discretion plays a very crucial role and the implementation of fair methods of investigation can be based upon their own judgement as to what the law requires. Sceptics will also argue that there are methods of avoiding fulfilling the requirements of PACE, such as oppressing suspects outside of the formal interview room and, as a result of this, PACE has achieved very little in improving the fairness of interrogation and investigation procedures.
Research conducted in Dixon in 1997, is supports the views of such cynics with his concluding comments arguing that PACE has done very little to improve the fairness of interrogation and investigation techniques: [PACE has] put a gloss on policing behaviour so as to make it acceptable to the wider public presentational rules exist to give an acceptable appearance to the way that police work is carried out.
It is important to realise that it is not only or mainly the police who seek to put this gloss on the reality of policing behaviour and interactions between the police and the public. Most of the presentational rules derive from the law and are part of a (successful) attempt by the wider society to deceive itself about the realities of policing. It is clear that the values of PACE are aligned with the aspiration for a fair and reliable system for the implementation of police investigations and interrogations but the practicality of the requirements have perhaps yet to be fully realised.
The workability of the statues need further development in order to become compatible with a fair and open system but the constant re-evaluation and modification of the codes indicate that the implementation of these laws is being conducted on a gradual improvement basis. One can only hope that one day the balance between justice and process can truly be achieved and the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure’s objectives of achieving fairness, openness and workability will one day be more effectively accomplished.
Works Cited: Allen, Christopher. Evidence (Sourcebook). London: Routledge Cavendish, 1996. Baldwin, John. “Police Interview Techniques. ” The British Journal of Criminology 33. 3 (1993): 325-252. Bland, Nick, Joel Miller, and Paul Quinton. “Police Research Series 128. ” Home Office. 31 Dec. 2008 <www. homeoffice. gov. uk/rds/prgpdfs/prs128. pdf>. Bradney, Anthony, Mandy Burton, and Fiona Cownie. English Legal System in Context. New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2007.