There and regulations of the police and ethical

There are a number of advantages regardingpolice discretion in the fact that it allows the officer to humanely treatpeople, giving them a second chance, and improving on the public perception ofthe police.

If the police were to follow the laws to the latter, they will beperceived to be unfair by the society and hence rejected (Rivera, 2006) Discretioncan also be said to promote autonomy in the sense that the cops and thecommunity at large are not enslaved by the written rules it promotes realisticgoals and takes into account the fact that the police are presented with uniquesituations on the ground that requires personal judgment depending on thesituation. Fyfe (1996: 183) contends that police ought to enjoy some degree ofdiscretion, but like discretion in any profession, it can be justified only toachieve a broadly agreed-upon purpose; in the case of the police, this purposeis often hard to define. Some commentators argue that police discretion shouldbe limited so that, for example, the rules and regulations of the police andethical standards circumscribe that discretion. Reiman argues even moreradically that “police discretion has no rightful place in a free society” (Reiman1996: 80). Others have argued that during discretion, Police don’t have theslightest idea about what could be the consequences of their action and thatdiscretion is a potential tool for abuse that might result into potentialneedless death and/or injury (Peak, 2009). Many argue that if police arepermitted wide discretion, a high level of accountability should match it, sothat processes and machinery exist to investigate complaints of misconduct orabuse of discretion. REF Because of thediscretionary mistakes that are inevitably made by officers, attempts have beenmade to control operational decision making among police officers (Butterfield,Edwards, and Woodall, 2005).

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Lipsky (1980) notes that discretion has beencurtailed in regards to domestic assaults where police officers are encouragedto charge offenders rather than informally resolve the situation. The issue ofpolice discretion has become an important public concern, for example, LordScarman’s report on the 1981 riots in Brixton emphasized that “the exercise of discretion lies at theheart of the policing function.”‘ The Scarman report led to a numberof changes in policing throughout England.

The issue of police discretioncontinued to be a critical issue during the Miners’ Strike of 1984, as therewere frequent challenges to the manner of police response to miners’ protestactivities. Enduring focus on the nature of police discretion in the Englishcriminal justice system was assured by the enactment of the Police and CriminalEvidence Act 1984. The Act not only introduced new laws and procedures to dealwith criminal activities, but it established a system of greater policeaccountability to achieve the proper balance between the investigative needs ofthe police and the rights of citizens.While police discretion is seen as inevitableand essential, there remains an underlying fear that its exercise may lead toarbitrary, corrupt or unethical behaviour.  An officer’s personal attributes and culturalbackground may influence how they view certain crimes.

Racist officers mightabuse the discretion aspect and make arrests on the basis of ethnic background.The location of the crime also influences the police decision with crimescommitted in what has been classified as hot spots likely to result in arrests.Arrests are most likely to happen in a more open society or a racially mixedsociety since there is a high chance of crime based on the racial, economicdifferences, and social disorder (Petheram, 2009).  In response legislative changes were introducedwith the aim of regulating police behaviour with the most recent being on the15 July 2014 the College of Policing launched a ‘Code of Ethics’ which set outnine policing principles and ten standards of professional behaviour was laidas a code of practice before Parliament as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour,Crime and Policing Act 2014. The Code of Ethics sets out the principles andstandards of behaviour that will promote, reinforce and support the higheststandards from everyone who works in policing in England and Wales Additionallythe code is designed to guide decision making for everyone in policing.

Combined with the standards of professional behaviour, the code will encourageofficers and staff to challenge those who fall short of the standards expected.The principles set out in this Code of Ethics originate from the ‘Principles ofPublic Life’ published by the Committee on Standards in Public Life in 1995, asthese continue to reflect public expectations. The Code includes the principlesof ‘fairness’ and ‘respect’ as research has shown these to be crucial tomaintaining and enhancing public confidence in policing.

Police ethics and a code of conduct weredeveloped in


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