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Public Law Directions

Public Law Directions (2nd edn)

Anne Dennett
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date: 01 December 2023

p. 46019. Police powerslocked

p. 46019. Police powerslocked

  • Anne DennettAnne DennettSenior Lecturer, University of Lincoln


This concluding chapter studies police powers. It is the function of the police to keep the public secure by preventing and detecting crime, and maintaining public order. This involves the exercise of public power and powerfully engages the relationship between the citizen and the state. There are clear links between police powers and the rule of law: it is imperative that police powers are not used in a random, arbitrary way; are clear, foreseeable, and accessible; are not unlimited; and are in accordance with the law. Police powers are mostly statute-based, the most significant of which is the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) which was enacted to achieve a balance between protecting citizens’ rights and effective police powers. Under section 66, the Home Secretary issues detailed Codes of Practice regulating the exercise of police powers and providing clear guidelines for the police and safeguards for the public.

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