In the Media

Police deny pushing for 'instant justice' powers

PUBLISHED August 20, 2006

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have denied reports they are "pressing ministers? for powers to bypass the courts and hand out 'instant justice' for anti-social behaviour.

An ACPO spokesman told Solicitors Journal that the Guardian's front-page story detailing how the Government is considering proposals allowing the police to hand out 'banning orders' and crush unregistered cars, without going through the courts, as ?premature?.

"It is not the case at all that we have approached the Government with these proposals and we are unlikely to in the near future,? said the spokesman. "Currently, our Workforce Modernisation Team are exploring the ideas, but we have no firm plans at present.?

ACPO's announcement will come as a relief to human rights group Liberty, who called the plans "a recipe for arbitrary justice, perceived injustice, real injustice?. It should also slightly placate the Police Federation who released a statement on the back of the Guardian's report reading: "As usual, ACPO have decided to go public on an initiative without consulting with those who would have to implement it. There may be some credibility in these ideas, but our fears are that will cause greater conflict and bureaucracy for our members and could blur the lines of justice whereby the police enforce the law and courts dispense penalties.?

According to the ACPO spokesman, if the plans are ever taken a stage further, the Police Federation will have the chance to voice their opposition. "There would be a wide-ranging consultation before any proposals are put forward,? he said.

According to the newspaper reports, senior police officers were looking to add ?bite? to neighbourhood policing by assuming new powers to dispense instant justice. These included the powers to fine 'yobs' and exclude them from town centres for an appropriate period of time, to issue three-month bans on gangs causing repeated disorder on estates, and seizing and destroying unregistered cars belonging to drivers who repeatedly flout the law.