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Discretion - A Matter for the Police (From Police Discretion in the Criminal Process, P 36-46, 1980 - See NCJ-73481)

NCJ Number
J D Nesbitt
Date Published
14 pages
The nature of police discretion in New South Wales, Australia, is described, and the nature of controls on police discretion is discussed.
The law tests a discretionary power in a constable to arrest or refrain from arresting, as it does in a citizen. Although a constable is trained in applying the law and receives continual instructions, basic police actions are controlled by regulations developed by the Commissioner of Police for police behavior, directed by supervisory officers, and subject to public action through the courts. The police in New South Wales are also given the discretion to prosecute or not to prosecute after arrests have been made. In considering whether a prosecution should continue, the following guidelines govern the decision regarding whether to prosecute: public policy, the reasons advanced as to why a charge should not proceed, the defendant's heath, the nature of the charge, the effect proceedings may have on a complainant, the complainant's attitude, the likelihood of obtaining a prima facie case, the character of the defendant, and any other matters that may be relevant to a given case. Prior to a person being charged with some offense, the following safety checks exist: the discretion of the arresting officer, the discretion of the station officer, the oversight of the aforementioned officers by the officer in charge of the station, and the availability of the police prosecutor for consultation. Some footnotes are provided.