The Police and Your Civil Rights.
By: Garry Crystal (29 Jan 19)
Awareness is one of the best deterrents when it comes to the police and avoiding the abuse of your civil rights. Making it known to the police that you are aware of your rights should make them more cautious when it comes to your rights.
The Police and your Rights
The police do have the right to exercise certain powers when it comes to dealing with suspects but these powers must be exercised responsibly. On the whole the police will act responsibly but there have been many cases of the police abusing the rights of suspects. The police are not above the law and there can be legal consequences if citizen’s rights are abused. The police can be sued, disciplined or even prosecuted if they infringe or abuse the rights of members of the public.
When confronted with the police many people will unknowingly waive a number of their civil rights. This is usually due to the fact that a great number of people are simply not aware of their basic civil rights. It may also be the case that when confronted with the police many people will simply do as the police ask. For some people the police are often imposing and even intimidating figures of power.
The police represent the government but the government also acts for its citizens, and there is legal protection in place when it comes to citizen’s rights.
Know your Rights.
It will be beneficial to be aware of your rights when it comes to dealing with the police, regardless of the situation.
The police are less likely to break any of your civil rights if you make them aware that you do actually know what your rights are.
For instance you can refuse to answer any police questions until you have taken legal advice.
A number of people will simply waive this right as soon as they are questioned. If a member of the public has not been cautioned by the police then they are under no obligation to answer any police questions.
Co-operating with the Police.
It will always be the best policy to co-operate with the police when they initially question you. If they ask for personal details such as your name and address then these should be given.
If the police have stopped you with the intention of proceeding with a search then you do have the right to know the reason for the search.
The police cannot search a member of the public without reasonable suspicion.
If the police cannot give a valid reason then they should not continue with any search.
Reasonable suspicion is not necessary if the suspect is in a designated stop and search area.
Codes of Practice
The powers and rights of the police are laid out in various codes of practice.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the codes of practice contain all of the rights and powers of the police.
The Pace act
covers the rights of the police and the suspect when it comes to issues such as stop and search, and arresting, interviewing and detaining suspects.
Any breach of these codes or the suspect’s rights can mean legal consequences for the police.
Enforcing your Rights
If your feel your civil rights have been infringed or abused by the police in any way there are a number of options open to you.
Complaints against the police can be made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
You can also make a complaint directly through your local police station.
If your grievance is serious enough you can sue the police but this option should not be considered without taking expert legal advice.
Human and civil rights
are in place to guarantee protection from abuse and any breach or infringement of these rights is a very serious matter.
The police are not above the law and they can face the same legal consequences as any other member of the public if they do abuse the civil rights of any citizen. Read further for more information about what happens if you are detained by the police.