The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 has enhanced the investigative process. Discuss.
This essay will discuss problems within the investigative process prior to The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). It will then go into detail as to when and why the Police and Criminal Evidence act was introduced and the codes entailed in it. Furthermore, it shall explain the advantages of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act being introduced and how it may have helped the investigative process including cases, as well as any disadvantages it may have caused, ending up with a clear conclusion of what the Police and Criminal Evidence Act is and whether or not it has helped or hindered the investigative process. Prior to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, police powers were not set in stone throughout the country, and those that were being used were made from a wide variety of different common and statutory law sources, leaving it to be uncertain. This led to the recognition of inconsistent police practice and left it open for potential injustice to occur (Mallenson, 2007). Historically, the police had the trust of public as they were just seen as ‘citizens in uniform’ (Mehra, 2011). However, over the years, the public started to have growing concerns over the police effectiveness and whether or not they were doing what they should be (Matthews & Young, 2013). In 1972, the murder of Maxwell Confait came before the courts. Two were convicted of the crime. A report was taken out by Sir Henry Fisher into the inquiry of system failures within the conviction process. The main issue was that of the police investigative processes which were put to blame for the miscarriages of justice this case (Newburn, Williamson & Wright, 2007). The Fisher report raised questions between administrative inquires and the judicial system, however, the report was not just an inquiry about facts of the law, but also a plan for change within the law (McBarnet, 1978). Following this, in 1974, four people were arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment for numerous murders that occurred in a pub in Guildford. The only evidence that was of any use to the courts was four typed confessions, that each of them had signed. However the suspects all retracted these when taken to trial and claimed that the police had beaten them, starved them and threatened their loved ones unless they signed the confession. Within these confessions there were 153 factual inconsistencies, which led to suspicions arising within the police force (Prenzler, 2009). Immediately after this the ‘Maguire Seven’ case in 1976, where seven were arrested and charged with possession of an explosive substance, police raided the house after being tipped off that Anne Maguire had taught people how to make bombs. Forensic tests were completed and traces of the substance found on a pair of gloves, however it was argued that this may have been obtained through a visitor leaving traces behind (Prenzler, 2009). The Home Office continued to disregard the fact that something needed to be done, up until 1977 when the government revealed it was creating a Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure to look at the investigation of crimes, police powers and duties, and also the rights and duties of the suspects (Zander, 1990). Following this in 1981, in Brixton, south London, riots took place throughout the region, where more than one hundred police officers were involved in arresting the looters and muggers who were involved and in the area, the rioting continued to become out of control spreading across London and up to Liverpool and Manchester with the police being the main target. A Judge who goes by the name Lord Scarman conducted an inquiry into these riots, who overall highly praised the police in dealing with them. He also supported the idea of strengthening the police force to deal with crimes more efficiently; he also wanted to make the police more aware of racial reactions (Reitan,...
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