Police Powers of Arrest
IntroductionPolicing is the act of overseeing that people live in harmony. In its literal definition, policing can be said to be looking over how people do what they are supposed to do. Policing is a monitoring the public to ensure that they conform to the laid down laws. The duty to police other is bestowed on the police force. The policy force is given the mandate of seeing that citizens live in peace and harmony. This is to say that police ensures that people live according to the laid down rules and laws. Therefore they make sure that people enjoy their personal rights but in doing so they don't interfere with the rights of other people. Hence the main role of the police is to look after those who are interfering with the rights of other people.
Policing is a noble activity that ensures that people live in harmony with one another. They make sure that people practice their right and at the same time give don't interfere with the rights of other people. Hence police cannot be taken as prefect but rather as major player in the sector of governance. Their role is just to ensure that people live in harmony with one another.
In order to carry this role effectively, police are give some power over the people. They are given the power to arrest those who do not act according to the requirements of the law. But in doing so they are guided by some principles which ensure that they keep ethics in their work. It doesn't mean that because a police is given power over a citizen, they have to arbitrarily come and arrest others. They have to be guided by some principles in their work.
The code of ethics is important in the world of police as it provides a guideline within which they should carry out their duties. It acts as regulatory mechanism and a system of accountability for the police. Like the citizens are guided by the law that police force enforce, the police force is guided in its operation by a code of ethics which ensures that there are protocols that they have to observe in their work. (Frameer 2007, p. 90).
It is rather absurd if the police force has to carry out their duties without observance of any code of ethics. They would exercise the powers that they are given in the world way. It is for this reason that the code of ethics for the police force becomes an indispensable tool that guides their operation.
Therefore we have said that the police are given powers over the citizens to ensure that they keep to the requirements of the law. But is this power enough? Do the police use the power they are given in the right manner? Should they be given more power or should there be an accountability system?
Relationship between police and the publicFor a long time now, there have been rocky relationships between the police and the public. This is dictated by the way in which the police have applied the power that they is bestowed on them by the law enforcement body. Although the police and the public should work together, this does not happen and not only in the UK but also in many countries in the world. This has been dictated by the interaction of the public and the police in the past which has set the police force to appear as more superior to the public. Therefore the public has tended to distance away from the police force.
There have been instances where police have been accused of stereotyping the public on issues of crime. This has been seen as an injustice way of applying police force and the public feel more threatened by the police. In the UK there has been animosity between the black and Asian origin public since they thing of being stereotyped on the issue of crimes. Many police officers have expressed fear for their lives once they meet with a black or an Asian youth in the street while the youths have expressed their fears of the police if they meet on the street. This shows that both the pubic and the police force have been treating each other as enemies. (Martin1998, p. 143)
Most people in the public view the police force as oppressive. As we have sad in this may be determined by the previous encounter that they have had have had with the police force. In the regard, if a person was mistreated by the police while in custody or during arrest, it would be difficult to change the perception of that person about the police force. Studies that have been carried out on the relationship between the police force and the public reveal that most people don't understand the role of the police nor do they understand the powers that the police have on them.
They see the police force as their masters and not as their servers. As a result, many people fear the police. But there is a general agreement from the public that the police have been excessive force in dealing with the public. The negativity of the police force comes in cases where the victim of policy brutality was just a suspect. If they were not guilty of having committed any crime, they may have more negative view of the police force. (Weltz 2003, p. 324)
The police should realize that they are given power to prevent the public from committing crimes and should not use this power to harass or to curtail their freedom. This is because the police force is not a master of the public but rather is supposed to offer their service to the public. It will be difficult to restore a cordial relationship between the two unless the police force sees a positive way of applying the powers that it is given over the public. Therefore it is good to understand the power that the police force have been given over the public and how it should be applied for the benefit of the public and to help the police force implement their duties.
Let us look at the powers that have been bestowed upon the police which they are supposed to apply when dealing with the public.
Powers bestowed to the police forceIn order to carry out their duties effectively, police are given power over the public. This is to help them exert their authority during arrest and in containing those who are convicted or suspected of having committed a crime. This helps the police to work with the public well since the public does not see them as equals. Let us look at some of the powers that are given to the police. (Mark 2005, p. 48)
Power to arrestPolice are given power to arrest those they suspect of having committed a crime. In this regard the police are given power to arrest and contain people who are caught breaking the law or those who are suspected of having committed certain crimes. However, in arresting these individuals the police are guided by some principles that ensure that they don't oppress the public. The power of the police over arresting others rests only in condition when that particular individual has been caught committing a crime or when that particular individual is suspected of having committed a crime. (Robinson 2005, p. 2)
Police are not supposed to make arbitrary arrest to individuals and hence during the time of arrest they are supposed to communicate why they are being arrested. This means that they must produce warrant of arrest before taking and confining the individual. This is a provision of the code of ethics of policing which ensures that protects the public from excesses of the police. Therefore before making any arrest, the police are supposed to have evidence of why they are arresting that particular suspect.
One of the reasons that have set the public against the police force is the issue of arbitrary arrest. Individuals feel that the police have been interfering with their freedom when they are arrested without being given the reason of their arrest. Many victims of police swoops have regarded the police force as operating beyond their powers.
Power to investigateOnce suspects are arrested, they are supposed to be presented in court within the shortest time possible. In this regard the police are given power to investigate an individual in order to collect all the evidence that is required to arraign that particular person in court.
In carrying out their investigation, the police are given power to search in individual house and to question individuals. But there is restriction of this power on the sense that the police must seek consent of the individual before questioning them. This means there is a provision that gives the individual suspects the power to be questioned or not. But in many instances the police have just intruded into the house of an individual and started questioning them with little regard to the protocols that are required in their code of ethics. (Valverde 2005, p. 152)
Power to containThe police force is also given the power to contain and individual that has been arrested. This is in order to avoid and individual from committing more crimes or to curtail their freedom of movement before they are arraigned in court. Therefore the police force is given the power to lock and individual in a cell while they are under investigation but they should not be held for more that 24 hours in that cell before they are released or charge in a court of law. (Reimman and Zimmermann 2006, p. 71)
These are three important powers that the police force has been given over the public. These powers are given to the police force in order to help it carry out its duties effectively. But at the same time we find that there are provisions that have been applied in the criminal justice system that help to safeguard the interest of the public and prevent it against the excesses by the police force.
These provisions in the criminal justice system are important since they try to put some regulation in the way the police practice the above powers. For example, the system of accountability dictates that the police should not make an arbitrary arrest without a reason for making the arrest, individuals should not be held for more than 48 hours in custody before they are taken to the court or before they are released. (Joan 2007, p. 6)
Use of force by policeThere are some times when the police are given the power to use force when dealing with the public. This is because there are incidences when the police may be dealing with abrasive people. In this regard they are given the mandate to use force although it should not be excessive force.
One of such incidence is while making arrest. While arresting individuals, the police are given the mandate to use force in order to arrest those who resist. But in doing so, they are not supposed to use excessive force that can cause body harm. However, this force should be used with a lot of professionalism in order to ensure that it is used on the right individuals and only those who resist arrest.
In investigating, the police are also given the power to use force in questioning individual. Sometimes police are not given prison to enter individual houses and carry out the necessary searches that they want. Therefore in case they that particular house is important in the investigation the police are given the authority to forcefully enter to such a house and carry out their investigation. But again there is need to use professionalism in the way they make such use of force. (Mariana 2006, p. 4)
Therefore we can say that the police force is given a lot of power in carrying out their work. But the way that they have used that power leaves us with a lot of question. The increasing rate of crimes all over the world has left us wondering whether they police force need to be given more powers or the powers should be reduced. This is a debatable question and may vary with the way each of use perceive the police force the past experience that we have had with the police.
In order to understand the issue of whether the police should be given more powers or not let us look at the criminal justice system. The system is such that there is different stratification but all dealing with the same person who is the criminal. The police force is however at the bottom of the stratification as they deal directly with the public. There for criminal justice system gives the police force the power to deal with the public in their neighborhood or in the life set up. The police are supposed to identify and arrest those who break the law.
Once they are arrested they are supposed to be investigated and arraigned in court of law. The evidence that is corrected is supposed to be used of prosecute the suspects. Therefore the police force is not given the power to prosecute but rather to arrests and investigate. The court is given the power to prosecute. Once convicted, the convict is given back to another branch of the police force that is supposed to contain and correct them. In this case the police and the court have no power over the correction of the convict.
This kind of stratification shows us how the power of dealing with crimes is shared between three arms of the criminal justice system. Therefore while we evaluate whether the police force should be given more powers or not, we should also look closely at the way in which those arms exercise their powers. Let us look at the merits and demerits of giving the police more powers.
Merits and demerits of giving the police more powerOnce the police are giving more power, they will be able to carry out their work effective. Currently there are some instances where the police fail to carry out the duties well due to some factors related to the power the police are allowed to use. For example in some instance the police find it difficult to arrest individual who are seen as politically correct individual. There are some areas where there police cannot investigate due to government protocols. Therefore once they are given more powers, they will be able to carry out the duties effectively without the fear of victimization.
Second, if they are given more powers, they will have confidence in carrying out their duties. This is because they will not be fearing retaliation when they make a decision on an arrest or not. Many police officers find it difficult to make their own decision and they rely on the decisions that are made by their superiors. Therefore if the police are given more powers, they will be able to make decision which can assist to fight crimes.
Third, when police are given more powers, the public is likely to work in conjunction with the police well. Currently there are some people in the public who disregard the police force as manipulated to serve the interest of those in power. They see the police as people who cannot make their own decision and therefore rely on the decision that are made for them by their superiors.
This results from the fact that there are some individuals who are well known criminals but who the police have not been able to arrest and arraign in court. This erodes the confidence of public on the capability of the police of apply the law indiscriminately. This is also allied to the earlier issue that had been raised in this paper on the stereotyping of criminals. Therefore giving police more powers will help the force to become more efficient and hence raise public confidence on the force. (Cardozo 2007, p. 21)
At the same time there are demerits that come along with the issue of giving police more powers than they have currently. Let us look at some of these demerits.
First there has been unsatisfying records of police accountability and hence there are doubts if the police force will be accountable for their actions. Giving police more power will decrease their level of accountability. Therefore there is a probability of increased police brutality in which it is citizens who will suffer more. Therefore before increasing any power of police, there must be in place mechanism of ensuring how police will enforce the power on the public.
Second, giving police force more power may affect the way in which criminal justice power is distributed between the three arms of the police, the court and the jail. Therefore increasing the power of police will require a similar mechanism of overhauling the whole criminal justice system. For example, the recent proposal to increase the power of police in the UK has seen a proposal by the Association of Chief Police Officer (ACPO) to punish people without taking them to court. This has elicited numerous remarks from the human right activists who have been blaming the proposal as being arbitrary to justice. It has been described as a recipe for arbitrary justice.
This means that there are issues that need to be looked into while such a proposal is implemented. Let us look at some of the recent proposals that have proposed to the increase of power to the police.
Recent proposals to increase powerAs has been given in the above example, there is a recent proposal to increase the powers of police in line with the need to punish criminals without going through the rigorous criminal justice system. Apart from proposing punishment of criminals without going through the criminal justice system, there is also a proposal to give the police powers to deal with town centre boys, power to a neighborhood constable who is armed with local knowledge, power to seize and crush cars driven by driving without registration or insurance, arbitrary stopping and searching for knife criminals suspect. These are some of the proposal that have been put forward by the police force to increase their power in order to deal with some of these issues that have been a challenge to the force.
Hence the issue of underperformance by the police force has been an issue of debate for along time. But in order to come up with an efficient force, there have been various issues that need to be considered. There have been many experimental trials that have been considered in making the force more efficient.
There is still a debate whether increasing the powers of the police is the best way to make it more efficient. It has been found out that some policing concepts like community policing are more efficient in making the police force more competitive rather than giving the police force more power. This is because community policing is likely to improve the relationship between the police and the community which it policies while the increasing eh power of police is likely to increase the already existing enmity between the police and the public.
Community policing has been found to be one of the most efficient way which has helped to increase neighborhood safety since individuals in the neighborhoods takes charge of policing activities. Individuals understand their neighborhood well that the police and hence they are able to offer crucial information that may lead to the arrest of the right suspects. This will have an effect of improving the perception of the public on the police. (Samaraie 2003, p. 4)
Giving more powers to the police is more like centralizing the powers of dealing with criminals which has not worked. Instead of centralizing this power, the concept of delegation should be adopted in which the police will share the burden of policing the public. The modern management has emphasized the need to delegate and therefore instead of giving the police more powers, efforts should be concentrated on increasing the powers that are given to the public policing concept. It has been found that involving the public in the criminal justice system is one of the most effective way of dealing with crimes of all kinds. The rate of crimes has been found to lower considerably with the introduction of community policing in the neighborhood.
There has been systematic involvement of the public not only in policing but also in the rehabilitation of the convicts. It has been found that if the public is involve in the rehabilitation of the crime convicts, the likelihood of their repeating of another crime is considerably lowered. Therefore the focus of making police force more efficient should not concentrate on giving the police force more powers but rather on improving professionalism in the work and accountability for their actions.
ConclusionThe police force plays an important role in the community by ensuring that there is maintenance of law and order. In order to carry out their duties they are given powers but which are limited to make sure the public is protected from the excesses of the police force. There have been raging debates on whether the power of police should be increased in order to make the force more effective. According to the recent proposal, the police have asked to be given more powers in order to deal effectively with criminals. But this would increase the level of enmity between the police and the public and would not improve the efficiency of the force. Therefore the best way to increase the power of the police force is not by giving them more powers but by concentrating on creating efficiency in some of the initiative like community policing which increased the relationship between police force and public and makers the fight against crime more effective.
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