Law and Police Powers Recent Term Paper

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Better still, don't let it happen. (para. 61)

In the United States, citizens take a dim view of unbridled police powers. They were condemnatory of Samuel a. Alito, a young U.S. President Ronald Reagan administration lawyer, and Supreme Court nominee, who took an expansive view of government law-enforcement powers in manycases where he was called upon to balance the prerogatives of police and prosecutors with the rights of individuals, according to 400 pages of documents released in November of 2005 by the U.S. Justice Department.

For instance, while working in the Office of Legal Counsel from 1985 to 1987, Alito wrote an opinion allowing the Internal Revenue Service to secretly record conversations with taxpayers who were under investigation.

In the United States, the term "police power" refers to the right of a government to exercise "reasonable control over persons and property" to protect the public's health and safety. Police powers are rooted in English common law, extending back at least four centuries. While police departments took their name from these powers, police departments, with their focus on crime, were not widely used until the nineteenth century. Police powers are closely related to the state's power to protect itself from outside forces. The authority derives from the notion of societal self-defense.

Confining dangerous mentally ill individuals in guarded institutions to protect the public is a police power, while confining individuals for their own protection is a parens patria power. Police power is in contrast with the parens patria power: the power to protect individuals for their own benefit. The state's authority to restrict individual liberty is much greater when it is done to protect the public. Thus, the state has considerable power to prevent the spread of tuberculosis, but not to force a person to take medication for hypertension.

Police powers allow for the destruction or restriction of property that poses a threat to the public, without paying compensation. It also includes the right to act without a court hearing or other due process protections, when necessary, to protect the public's health. An aggrieved person can contest such actions through habeas corpus proceedings and other post-restriction proceedings. Some states have limited their police powers by legislation and state constitutional provisions because it is the nature of such powers to outgrow the boundaries of principle, where there is no rule to apply.

For the good of public health some things are regulated by the police: licensing, public health issues under the law, quarantine and regulatory authority at borders and ports.

The United States has a deeply rooted constitution which lists specific rights and provides for judicial review of laws. The U.K. has a common law system, which is centrally located in Parliament. It has no Bill of Rights and no judicial review comparable to the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, the House of Lords serves as the high court, and if they find a law to be "incompatible" with common law, they trust Parliament to change it.

In the U.S. The conventional wisdom about the scope of state police powers date from the early days of the Republic, when state regulation was limited by the common law principle of sic utere tuo ut alienum non-laedas (you should use what is yours so as not to harm what is others'), implying that legitimate regulation existed only to prevent concrete harm to specified interests. Around the 1900s the principle changed from the old sic utere to the new principle of salus populi est suprema lex (the good of the public is the supreme law), suggesting that states could make regulations so long as they claimed to be working to promote the public safety, welfare, or morality.

Like all such conventional wisdom, this approach is somewhat simplistic. But it captures a large grain of truth. The range of activity that courts, and legal scholars, view as within the scope of legitimate regulation is considerably larger than previous.

The struggle with how much power to afford the police challenges all nations. In South Korea, the Ministry of Justice plans to grant the Ministry of Information and Communication police power to combat computer crimes such as network hacking, a move that is expected to generate controversy over individual rights and the limits of the state's authority.

In 2000, the United Kingdom contemplated the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill which was to become law in October. The Bill gave police the power to demand keys to encrypted data and anyone failing to comply risked encarceration. Critics said this meant a person could be guilty until proven innocent.

This Bill caused much controversy in the UK. Among other matters, the Bill addressed the rights of authorities, such as police and intelligence services, to require a computer user to hand over decryption codes used by him or her. Failure to comply with such a demand could lead to the individual being jailed. This was the most contentious part of the Bill.

Just recently, another group of controversial "Big Brother" style crime-fighting techniques are going to be introduced by the Government under the cover of the 2012 London Olympics, a leaked memo has revealed.

The document, drawn up by officials at the U.K. Home Office and sent to 10 Downing Street, allows for a much wider use of the police's DNA database to identify suspects through their relatives.

Police are also to be empowered to scan postal packages to find drugs and to monitor an individual's progress in even greater detail than they can today, by using advances in CCTV technology as well as electronic travel passes such as the Oyster cards in use in London.

The Conservatives and civil liberties campaigners are leading protests against the proposals, with Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, accusing John Reid, the Home Secretary, of presiding over a "make liberty history" campaign.

The struggle with how much power to afford the police challenges all nations. In South Korea, the Ministry of Justice plans to grant the Ministry of Information and Communication police power to combat computer crimes such as network hacking, a move that is expected to generate controversy over individual rights and the limits of the state's authority.

In 2000, the United Kingdom contemplated the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill which was to become law in October. The Bill gave police the power to demand keys to encrypted data and anyone failing to comply risked encarceration. Critics said this meant a person could be guilty until proven innocent.

This Bill caused much controversy in the UK. Among other matters, the Bill addressed the rights of authorities, such as police and intelligence services, to require a computer user to hand over decryption codes used by him or her. Failure to comply with such a demand could lead to the individual being jailed. This was the most contentious part of the Bill.

Just recently, another group of controversial "Big Brother" style crime-fighting techniques are said to be introduced by the Government under the cover of the 2012 London Olympics, a leaked memo has revealed.

The document, drawn up by officials at the U.K. Home Office and sent to 10 Downing Street, paves the way for a much wider use of the police's DNA database to identify suspects through their relatives.

Police are also to be empowered to scan postal packages to find drugs and to monitor an individual's progress in even greater detail than they can today, by using advances in CCTV technology as well as electronic travel passes such as the Oyster cards in use in London.

The Conservatives and civil liberties campaigners are leading protests against the proposals, with Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, accusing John Reid, the Home Secretary, of presiding over a "make liberty history" campaign.

Legislation has assisted in the toning down of the 2000 Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000, but Court findings have aided its modification to protect human liberties. For instance, amendments are in force concerning forensic procedure consents for taking of a DNA Sample, phone tapping and search warrants before entering private property. In a climate of fear and ignorance of the enemy, citizens will hand powers over to others out of sheer frustration. But this does not mean that authorities should take advantage of these powers to abuse others, or even to use these powers at all. It is up to the judicial handling by the police of such powers, and then depending on the finding of a judge, determining if the circumstances of the utilization of this power embodied a policy, principle or rule.

Bibliography

Nick Christie, "Queensland police 'move-on' powers are over the top." Online Opinion: Australia's e-journal of social and political debate. 1 Nov 2006. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=5051.

H.L.A. Hart, the Concept of Law. 92-144, 1961.

Patrick Hennessy and Ben Leapman, "Ministers plan 'Big Brother' police powers." Sunday Telegraph. 4 Feb 2007.

Kim Ton-Hyung, "Korea: Ministry to get police power to combat cybercrime." The Korea Herald Asia Media, Media News Daily. May 10, 2004.

Petley, Julian. "New steps to extend police powers to punish porn…[continue]

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