Issue date: 22 March 2007
Policing and Defending in a Post-PACE World Conference University of the West of England 29 March 2007
Law and Crime experts will investigate the continuing relevance of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) at a special conference entitled 'Policing and Defending in a Post-PACE World' at the University of the West of England on Thursday 29 March.
The conference coincides with the issuing of a Home Office consultation on PACE and the Codes of Practice, and Alan Brown, Head of the Police Powers unit at the Home Office, will be one of the speakers at the conference. Other speakers include five leading legal academic lawyers, a criminal defence lawyer and the Chief Constable of South Wales Police.
2007 marks the 21st anniversary of the implementation of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, and the conference organisers say that the time has come to ask the question - has PACE come of age, or should it be pensioned off?
Professor Ed Cape from UWE explains, “PACE, enacted in 1984, was an innovative and controversial attempt to regulate the investigation of crime and, in particular, the detention and questioning of suspects. Based upon the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure, which envisaged that it would represent a balance between 'the interests of the community in bringing offenders to justice and the rights and liberties of persons suspected or accused of crime', it was founded upon the principles of 'fairness', 'openness' and 'workability'.
“PACE now operates in a very different context than that in the mid-1980s. Crime rates have declined and the Human Rights Act 1998 has resulted in a greater awareness of the human rights implications of policing powers. Policing has become increasingly driven by government inspired incentives, objectives, targets, inspection and audit. PACE and the Codes of Practice have frequently been amended to give the police greater powers, and attitudes have changed with regard to the collection and retention of personal information.
“Most defence lawyers advising at the police station now operate under a contracting regime, but relations between them and the police have been complicated by increasing demands on those suspected of crime to assist in the efficient management of the criminal justice process. Furthermore, responses to terrorism have resulted in a parallel system of regulation which is, nevertheless, closely interrelated with PACE. The purpose of this one-day conference is to bring together defence lawyers, police officers, policy-makers and academics to examine the critical questions and issues surrounding PACE. Leading national and international speakers will systematically scrutinise different aspects of PACE in the context of policy and legal developments, and research evidence. Speakers will also consider whether the particular approach to regulation embodied in PACE – especially the Codes of Practice – has been effective, and whether it forms an adequate basis for regulation in the future.”
The conference, which will provide an up-to-date account of the current state of law and practice, will be of great interest to criminal lawyers, police officers, academics and policy-makers. Fully referenced copies of the speakers' papers will be provided to delegates as part of their conference pack.