Where Does the Balance Lie Between Law Enforcement and Civil Liberties?

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Civil liberties are rights that are provided to individuals under the laws of the country however, this differs depending on the state. Many contemporary constitutions around the world have adopted the 'Bill of Rights' whereby the rights of citizens are protected from the government. The UK on the other hand signed the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) in 1951. Although, this was not incorporated into our laws until October 2000 because it was argued that common laws already provided such rights. The ECHR covers both human rights and civil liberties of Europe. The police have adopted numerous of powers due to the range of legislations put into place. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) being the most common, has exercised these civil rights more so than other acts. Stop and search has been a very influential power given to the police to prevent and detect crime. However, certain events in British history has emphasized resentment towards the police by ethnic minorities, this is because there has a long perceived perception of the police being unfair, racist and showing display of harassment (Bowling 1998, Solomos 1998). This reveals that the majority of police officers make generalisations and stereotype their possible criminals before they even approach them, by doing this the police force are automatically alienating large segments of the population. The police have their own ideological perceptions of what defines a 'typical' criminal just like every other individual but this does not give them the power to stop and search on this basis alone. Section 3 of PACE specifies that if a constable has reasonable grounds of suspecting, a police officer may stop and search a person. (Home Office, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984: Code A, 2:1). Nonetheless, this can be perceived in many different ways as to what is a 'reasonable' suspicion to stop and search an individual, therefore this statement remains unclear and is purely based on a...
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