Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
Introduction – the overriding objective
This chapter deals with one of the most important aspects of any legal system – how suspects are dealt with pre-trial – and police powers. It offers a great deal of scope for discussion of matters of both principle and practice. It is also an area where a considerable volume of empirical work has been done.
The topic is dominated by the central piece of legislation in the field of police powers, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (known as ‘PACE’). This Act was the result of the Philips Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure (‘Philips’). The Philips Commission's Report also resulted in the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 which established the Crown Prosecution Service (‘CPS’).
PACE is accompanied by Codes of Practice. Originally there were four. Now there are seven: Code A on Stop and Search, Code B on Search of Premises, Code C on Detention, Questioning and Treatment of Persons in Custody, Code D on Identification, Code E on Tape Recording of Interviews, Code F on Visual Recording with Sound of Interviews and Code G on Arrest. In July 2006 a new Code H was added setting out the rules (equivalent to those in Code C) for the detention, treatment and questioning of terrorist suspects.
PACE has been the subject of countless legislative amendments. The Codes too have been amended from time to time. The latest major revision came into force on 1 January 2006.