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(p. 229) 11. Police powers and accountability 

(p. 229) 11. Police powers and accountability
(p. 229) 11. Police powers and accountability

Benjamin Bowling

, Robert Reiner

, and James Sheptycki

Page of

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date: 25 May 2020

This chapter focuses on police powers, accountability, and the regulation of police discretion. It begins by considering the legitimation of police legal powers in democratic societies and the problem of police accountability. There is then discussion of policy-making for the police force—priorities in resource allocation, strategy, and style—and the street-level actions of rank-and-file officers. Developments in police powers before and after the landmark Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984, and the principle of fundamental balance between powers and safeguards supposedly enshrined in PACE are covered. The chapter then examines developments in police accountability, including the mechanisms for handling complaints against the police and the role of political control in police governance. It concludes by assessing the attempts to reconcile police power and democratic accountability in contemporary societies characterized by a patchwork of domestic, transnational, public, and private police agencies carrying out ‘high’ and ‘low’ policing.

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