Public opinion is an important part in democratic societies. It can help policy makers to change perspectives in different aspects of social and political life. The public's perception is what social psychologist Daniel Yankelovich calls "the boundaries of political permission;" the restrictions or limitations within which policy will be enthusiastically maintained or consented to by the people. In a democratic society, headship is eventually responsible to the force of the people (CFSOM, 2000). Despite of the issue, leaders who make rules outside of these limitations of acquiescence may see the people reject that rule, and support to replace it with a thoroughly diverse approach. People's perspective about some parts of the Criminal Justice System is poor. The broad absence of confidence in the Criminal Justice System also appears to be influenced by misperceptions of the police issues (CFSOM, 2000).
At the late 90' and early 20' people had negative attitudes toward police. Public were concerned after several miscarriages of justice occurred, in which innocent people went to prison and the guilty remained free. At this time people were asked about police interviewing and half of informants thought that the use of threats and unfair pressure happened at least occasionally. More important is that one quarter thought that police officers used threats and unfair pressure more often. It is important to mention that at this time one to ten Londoners thought that police fabricated the evidences if they have not had a confession. After serious miscarriages of justice and some cases that took wide publicity from media and brought public's heavy criticism toward police and criminal justice, it was time for changes. The legislation had changed and Police and Criminal Evidence Act suggested Circular 7 and Circular 22 (see Chapter 1). After three decades, people change perspective towards police. Specifically, people rated police interviewing as very good, however, the majority of participants were not aware about police interviewing in general. Also, even than people were not aware how police interviewed they characterised police interviewing as effective and professional and just a low proportion believed that police use threats.
People's awareness about PACE and PEACE
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It is remarkable that people ages 35 and over did not know about PACE, but in compare to people under 35 had lower percentages. It is conspicuous that younger people have no knowledge about legislation and the changes to Criminal justice system. In addition, people did not know about police techniques prior Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), even the people over 35 years old who were living at that time and they were conscious about social life. Therefore, even the small number of people who knew about PACE and prior PACE techniques, the number of people who knew about police investigation interviewing technique PEACE is much more lower than people who know about PACE. It is a noticeable reduction and it is bizarre that the majority of people have no idea how police interviewed in the past. Memory plays an important role in our lives. It is a basic ability of people to remember. Memory allows us to remember skills that we have learnt or retrieve information that is stored in the brain or recall an event. PEACE is based on memory models, even though the majority of people believed that police officers do not understand how memory works neither what psychologists say. People were not inform about police interviewing, they did not know about the new interviewing technique however, they rated police interviewing since PACE as very effective and it is considerable that the majority believed that false confessions reduced because of the use of an appropriate interviewing and that police officers are trained. Also, a large number of people think that if sometime in their life be a witness, victim or a suspect, police will treat them in an appropriate and professional way. This perspective is a positive sign for the police, it shows that people trust police officers and feel safe as long as the police use the new investigative interviewing technique. Public opinion changed dramatically the last three decades, in compare to the past survey, in which people believed that police was unreliable, unprofessional, that they use threats and pressure to obtain just one confession and if they could not, they fabricated evidences.
Media and Public
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Media affects people. This statement is proven from a lot of researchers. It is important to know from which sources people get inform about police interviewing. The majority of people form their opinion from media and more specifically a large number of people read newspapers and watch television. Regardless that we live in information society, people do not use internet largely in compare to those who watch television and read the press. In a previous research, audio-visual and newspapers are most usually mentioned as the main source of information about crime, police and the criminal justice system. A noticeable proportion of people watch television documentaries, listen to radio news and read press. (Mirrlees-Black, 2001). Also, it is interesting how media affects people; they rated how much influence the media have on their views and over of half respondents rated the influence as very high. Even people that they have higher education they are influence largely from media. Although, those people that they have a lot of influence are people under 35. This means that young people are influenced from media and they form their opinion from the media.
In this research there were some disadvantages which were identified during the process of the survey. In the questionnaire there were gaps and the researcher could not change the form of the questionnaire or to cover the gaps. Researcher could have conducted a pilot study before the research, thus researcher could improve the quality and efficiency of the research. The respondents did not know what to answer in some questions and they were asking the researcher to help them or to tell them what to answer. The researcher informed them that it is their opinion and just explained to them how they can complete the questionnaire. In questions about the awareness of PACE the majority of respondents did not know what to answer and they were asking for help and they did not know if they had to answer the rest of the questions. Also the separate sheet about PEACE model was too brief and respondents were not familiar with PEACE model and they did not understand a lot from the sheet about PEACE. It was not representative sample. The sample was relatively small (38 respondents) in compare to the population of England and Wales (millions). In addition, some respondents did not answer the qualitative questions (14 and 15). It was difficult to code the last questions and only question fourteen was coded. In question fifteen the researcher selected some of the answers and those were included in the research. Overall the research was good but some parts were incomplete. There were some disadvantages in the questionnaire in relation to the literature, some questions could be consider, such as more about public perspectives towards police interviewing and more about media influence. It could be more descriptive questions about PEACE because people did not know anything about that model. Other sample could be used; researcher could choose the people that they could fill in the questionnaire, such as criminology students.
Future Research and Recommendations
The significance of public's opinion has to be in the heart of all subjects, people can influence policy makers and give advices and help about an issue. Especially when we are speaking about the police issues and whether people feel safe during police interviewing. When people asked if they would feel safe as long as police use the new investigative technique, the majority answered that they would feel safe. The political community and the social agents should include and consider people's opinion, once people were not aware about the improvements in law that took place (PACE). Therefore, people were not familiar with PEACE model, which was a big step forward in the history of police. This research can be improved so the results are more representative and more reliable. Strong examples of present miscarriages of justice show that police system needs more improvements. In an article in ''The Times'', Richard Oakley wrote about a case in which two officers displayed poor behaviour during an interview highlighting the issue that even given the ''Guides for interviewing'' and the implementation of the PEACE technique, officers still have poor interviewing techniques. (Sunday Times, 2006). Police officers should be often checked in terms of interviewing. Because such cases will show to the public that police in unprofessional and public opinion will return back to 80s' where they believed that police is unreliable. The policy makers and police should inform the people about the changes that took place through the internet or through the media. Therefore politicians should control the media in terms of how they present police cases and police interviewing. The most times show to the people that police is not trustworthy and professional. If people do not feel safe it will be a general social concern. Indeed, the media has the central control of people's mind; they could show the police improvements through a documentary or a movie thus people get informed and understand that police is trustworthy and professional.
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