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PACE part 4

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Last week, we looked at the abolition of PACE in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We also looked at provisions for confessions in section 76 of PACE. This week we would take a look at section 78 and Code C. As mentioned in a previous article, their Lordships of the Privy Council applied sections 76 and 78 of PACE in the case of Thompson v the Queen. PACE as was said earlier is the Police and Criminal Evidence Act in England. It was introduced because of the need to consider the investigative process in the light of police powers and duties as well as the rights and duties of suspects.{{more}}

Section 78

Section78 of PACE deals with the exclusion of unfair evidence. Subsection (1) states that “the court may refuse to allow evidence on which the prosecution proposes to rely to be given if it appears to the court that having regard to all the circumstances, including the circumstances in which the evidence was obtained, the admission of the evidence would have such an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings that the court ought not to admit”.

Accordingly, under section 78 a court has the power in its absolute discretion to exclude any evidence where, having regard to the circumstances (including the way the evidence in question was obtained), it considers that its admission would have an unduly adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings.(Zander, 2005). In short, if the court objects to the way the prosecution obtained its evidence it would rule against its admission.

Codes of Practice

As mentioned before PACE consists of six Codes of Practice from A to F. Codes A, C and D have annexes. There are also Notes of Guidance but these are not part of the Codes. The Codes of Practices have been drafted by the Home Office in England. They are to be readily available at all police stations for consultation by police officers, police staff, detained person and members of the public. The Codes of Practice were fine tuned to take into account the local situation in England. In Thompson v the Queen, their Lordships of the Privy Council thought that Code C was not applicable to our jurisdiction because it did not take account of our local circumstances. The Court of Appeal felt that it could be modified to take account of our local circumstances.

Code C

In addition to its seventeen sections Code C, has ten annexes ranging from A to J. Code C provides the procedure for “detention, treatment and questioning of persons by police officers.” Some of the sections deal with custody record, conditions of detention, care and treatment of detained persons, caution, interviews, questioning reviews, extensions of detention and charging detained persons among others. A few of these sections will be given below.

Pursuant to section 1.1, all persons who are in custody must “be dealt with expeditiously and released as soon as the need for detention no longer applies”.

Section 2.1A requires the person arrested to be brought before the custody officer. A custody record must be opened for the person under arrest or arrested at the police station, that is, a person having gone there voluntarily or attending a police station in answer to street bail. Video and audio recording are not included.

Section 2.4 states that a solicitor or appropriate adult must be permitted to consult a detainee’s record as soon as practicable.

• Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]

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