Comment on the statement that the police (UK) can abuse their powers even now?

Essay by ClaudetteHigh School, 12th grade October 2003

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Despite the introduction of The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) in 1984, which outlined police powers, including stop and search, arrest and detention, police still have the ability to abuse their powers.

An example of the police abusing their powers is with regards to stop and search procedures. Police officers are not allowed to stop people on the grounds of age, sex, appearance, race or previous convictions, set out in code of practice A, under section 66 of PACE. Despite these rules, more Black and Asian youths are stopped than other groups, even though they do not commit more crime. Approximately half of blacks and Asians say they believe the police in Britain are racist, according to a survey commissioned by BBC News Online. The opinion in the survey reinforces the fact that people from ethnic minorities believe that the UK's legal system discriminates against them. Discrimination has been debated for years and The Macpherson reports into the death of the black London teenager Stephen Lawrence labelled the Metropolitan Police institutionally racist.

The police can avoid looking racist by stopping and searching lots of black youths, who they think are guilty of something and then stopping and searching lots of white people for no other reason than to balance the stop and search figures. Research by Sanders, published in 1993, showed that a main reason why police stopped and search someone was because they had previous convictions. The government, however, has noticed the abuse of police powers and is creating an action plan to tackle the issue; police will have to present the person they have stopped with a written explanation. The attack on the police for being racist may have had negative effects. The police now feel nervous to stop black people in case they are accused of...