Before P. A. C. E. 84 there was a general idea that Police would go to court with a suspect within 24 hours. That has been encapsulated in P. A. C. E. and is in use now. You have to be charged, released or taken to court within 24 hours. A senior officer can extend the 24 hours by 12 additional hours if the Police need more time to gather evidence however this happens rarely. The Police can apply to a magistrate's court for additional time, the total time for detention is up to 4 days total.
When you arrive at the station a custody officer takes responsibility of you and you are told your rights, this protects you. There are more rules within P. A. C. E. , which protect you whilst you are in Police custody, you are entitled to regular meals and breaks from police questioning Safeguards for Suspects There are many safeguards within P. A. C. E. one of these is that interviews carried out at police station must be tape-recorded. This helps to safeguard the interviewee against psychological abuse. Video recorded interviews have been piloted and may be more wide spread in the future.
Recently the police have changed the way they caution people, the main reason for this change is that now you cannot simply say nothing at all to the police, and then stand up in court and give an alibi. It could be all made up and may not be admissible in court. Senior Police officers can suspend your right to see a lawyer if they think it will affect the case. An independent researcher found that only 25% of people in Police custody called for a lawyer, there are several possible reasons why only a 1/4 of the people called for a lawyer:
1. They weren't informed of their rights. 2. The Police may have 'forgot' to tell them about the duty solicitor. 3. Waiting for a duty solicitor may take time and people may not want to wait. Included within the Police and Criminal Evidence is a right to inform someone of your arrest, however a senior Police officer can suspend this right if he/she believes it may affect evidence relating to the case. Also included within P. A. C. E. is your right to have an appropriate adult whilst you are being interviewed. This only applies if you are under the age of 18 and/or you have special needs.
Independent research also found that up to 20% of people in people in Police custody had special needs compared to the actual police records of only 4%. This means that some people with special needs are having their rights infringed. On a whole I believe that the Police and Criminal Evidence Act did help the public by giving them more rights, however for most of these rights the police can suspend or even ignore. There is still a lot that can be done for the rights of suspects before there will be an equal balance.