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The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) (1984 c. 60) is an Act of Parliament which instituted a legislative framework for the powers of police officers in England and Wales to combat crime, as well as providing codes of practice for the exercise of those powers. Part VI of PACE required the Home Secretary to issue Codes of Practice governing police powers. The aim of PACE has always been to establish a balance between the powers of the police in England and Wales and the rights of members of the public. Equivalent provision is made for Northern Ireland by the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 (SI 1989/1341). No equivalent act exists in Scots Law. Although PACE is a fairly wide ranging piece of legislation, it mainly deals with police powers to search an individual or premises, including their powers to gain entry to those premises, the handling of exhibits seized from those searches, and the treatment of suspects once they are in custody, including being interviewed. Specific legislation as to more wide ranging conduct of a criminal investigation is contained within the Criminal Procedures and Investigation Act 1996.

PACE Codes of Practice

The Home Office and the Cabinet Office announced a joint review of PACE and its codes of practice in May 2002, and on 31 July 2004, new PACE Codes of Practice came into effect. Following a further review in 2010, PACE Codes A, B and D were re-issued to take effect on 7th March 2011.

  • PACE Code A: deals with the exercise by police officers of statutory powers to search a person or a vehicle without first making an arrest. It also deals with the need for a police officer to make a record of such a stop or encounter. On 1 January 2009, Code A was amended to remove lengthy stop and account recording procedures, requiring police to only record a subject's ethnicity and to issue them with a receipt.
  • PACE Code B: deals with police powers to search premises and to seize and retain property found on premises and persons.
  • PACE Code C: sets out the requirements for the detention, treatment and questioning of people in police custody by police officers.
  • PACE Code D: concerns the main methods used by the police to identify people in connection with the investigation of offences and the keeping of accurate and reliable criminal records.
  • PACE Code E: deals with the tape recording of interviews with suspects in the police station.
  • PACE Code F: deals with the visual recording with sound of interviews with suspects.

On 1 January 2006 an additional code came into force:

  • PACE Code G: deals with statutory powers of arrest.

On 24 July 2006 a further code came into force:

  • PACE Code H: deals with the detention of terrorism suspects

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