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Critically analyse the problems involved in Police use of discretion - Essay Example

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In simple terms the use of discretion by police refers to their action and ability to choose when to intervene and when not to intervene in the enforcement of law. Reiner regarded discretion as a particular tool in police organisation to be used by officers at the very ground level …
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Critically analyse the problems involved in Police use of discretion
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Download file to see previous pages In simple terms the use of discretion by police refers to their action and ability to choose when to intervene and when not to intervene in the enforcement of law. Reiner regarded discretion as a particular tool in police organisation to be used by officers at the very ground level who are operating away from the immediate supervision of management This paper shall critically analyse the problems involved in the police use of discretion. It shall specifically discuss the practice of ethnic and other subjective considerations in routine stops and searches, the evaluation of domestic violence incidents, and similar police activities.The use of discretion is far greater in the police, even at their lowest levels, as compared to other organizations. This means that the constables in police enjoy more discretion than any other organisation even in police organisation. This is because the constables have direct interaction with the public while policing and patrolling2. Issues have now come up in relation to police officers and their need to apply discretion in their activities. Various factors have to be considered in order for the police to decide how much effort is needed in order to enforce specific laws which help control lawlessness. It is also important to note how a comprehensive police guidance detailing the manner of discretion which may be applied in specific circumstances can actually be insufficient for police officers to apply in order to avoid abuse of discretion. In these cases, it is difficult to include all the scenarios where discretion may be utilized in a single book. Moreover, even racial discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities may lead to a misuse of discretion. Nevertheless, according to Goldstein, there are no set rules or even a rule-book to follow for police officers to follow in handling police encounters3. Police officers cannot also be instructed on how to handle specific situations because most of their activities are part of routine policing where they often work away from supervisory authorities. Body There are various issues which are seen with the use of discretion. One of the issues is based on the fact that police officers may not have as much experience in policing and this may sometimes lead them to misuse their discretion in the apprehension of suspected criminals4. Moreover, their discretion may be affected by factors which include the inappropriate use of subjective and demographic factors to impact on their decisions as police officers. These factors may include racial or ethnic minority and in some cases, even gender. Newburn and Reiner discuss that the pattern of police discretion which lead to issues in its application is fashioned by different elements including class, race, gender, and age5. These factors often cause society to manifest various responses to police officers. Vulnerable people and the minority groups are often subjected to the unfair applications of police discretion. Studies establish that this discretion is often abused among young, black, lower class, and among males6. Patrolling among police officers on these individuals often include strict surveillance which often leads to abuse of discretion. This negative approach in the use of discretion often causes a very negative approach against the police. In a study by the Home Office, black people have a higher likelihood of being pulled over by the police officers for routine stops and searches7. Police officers seem to be highly influenced by the stereotypes about black people being criminals or offenders. In a discussion by author and criminal analyst Frank Remington, he acknowledged the fact that police officers must have a significant role in moulding and establishing a proper law enforcement process for the general population8. He compared the Federal Trade Commission, which is an administrative agency who has the responsibility of developing enforcement policies, and the local police departments ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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