Police Powers

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Police Powers
Police powers are defined as “legal abilities to perform actions that would otherwise be legally forbidden; they are not duties to perform actions to which the law would otherwise be indifferent” (Shiner, 1994).Police exercise powers with respect to detention and arrest, search and seizure, use of force, and interrogation of crime suspects’ .The degree to which police exercise these powers vary from one case to another. A police force with unlimited power might be more effective, but it would interfere with the freedoms citizens to enjoy. Thus, one major problem permeates the whole field of police powers: how to frame the law to give police adequate powers to perform their law enforcement duties, while at the same time ensuring that such powers do not allow arbitrary and unreasonable interference by the police with the freedom of the individual (Lambert, 1986). Lambert (1986) has stated that, police forces are expected to use powers of coercion to function efficiently. He acknowledges that powers to detain suspects against their will are essential elements of the investigative process. He also suggests that, there will always be circumstances, where police forces will need to stop and question people, search them and their premises or vehicle and take them to the police station in order to proceed with the investigation, if need be, by force. This would enable them to carry out their job successfully. This term paper looks at two police powers namely the power to detain and arrest and the power to search people and places to seize evidence that are essential to ensure order and pursue criminals, while protecting the rights of citizens. Canadian criminal offences do not all have the same degree of severity. Understanding the classification of criminal offences is essential before discussing about arrest and detention. Arcaro (Arcaro, Classification of offences, 2003), has classified criminal offences in two categories : 1. Summary Conviction: Minor criminal offences that include indecent acts, disturbances, trespassing at night et cetera. 2. Indictable:Major criminal offences that include first degree murder, infanticide, kidnapping et cetera. ARREST AND DETENTION

The term arrest has been defined as ‘actual restraint on a person’s liberty, without that person’s consent’, and ‘physical custody of a person with the intent to detain’ (Arcaro, Arrest without warrant, 2003). It involves a statement that person is under arrest and may/may not involve physical touch of the person In Canada, The power to arrest is provided by the Criminal Code and other federal statues as well as by provincial legislation such as motor vehicle statues. An arrest can be made to prevent a crime from being committed, to terminate a breach of the peace, or to compel an accused person to attend the trial (Griffiths, 2007). Griffiths (2007) proclaims that only a handful of criminal suspects are “formally arrested" when they are charged with an offence. He claims that most of them are issued an appearance notice by the police officer or are summoned to court by a justice of the peace (JP). He states that, sometimes, the police have to respond quickly without securing a warrant from JP. Section 495(1) C.C states four circumstances where a police officer can arrest a criminal suspect without a warrant: 1. Find a person committing a criminal offence

2. Reasonable grounds that a person has committed an indictable offence. 3. Reasonable grounds that a person is about to commit an indictable offence. 4. Reasonable grounds that a valid warrant exists in the territorial jurisdiction in which the accused person is found. (Arcaro, Arrest without warrant, 2003) Two additional conditions apply to making an arrest. First, the officer must not make an arrest if he or she has no “reasonable grounds”. Reasonable Grounds has been defined by case law as “a set of facts or circumstances which would cause a person of...
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