Police Discretion Research Paper

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However, a dominant problem with the use of discretion is found in its unrestricted use. Use of discretion causes the violation of individual human rights, specifically those demanding equal protection and due process of the law, safeguard from unreasonable stop searches, seizures, and safeguard against compelled self-incrimination.


In addition, the fact that the police have made excessive use of its non-statutory powers to search tens of thousands of children, without any evidence they had committed a crime is another dominant problem. Police have used controversial stop and search powers on nearly 300 toddlers over the last five years, new figures have disclosed. The development is thought to reflect a trend for adult or teenage criminals to conceal illegal items such as guns, knives and drugs on young children in a bid to avoid detection. A
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Police power to stop and search individuals in England and Wales is governed by ss. 1 and 2 of PACE, Code of Practice A (CoP), section 60 (s60) of the Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and section (s47) of the Terrorism Act 2000 (which replaced the powers of stop and search under section 44 (s44) of the same Act). Police officers have the power to stop and search individuals under these Legislations.

The police are however restricted in certain situations to stop and search. Under ss. 1 and 2 and Cop A, a police officer may search vehicles or persons and detain any vehicle or persons for the purpose of the search. The search can only be carried out to look for certain items, most importantly stolen items and prohibited items. A police officer may only stop and search an individual if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting that they will find stolen or prohibited

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