AuthorSteve Coughlan; Glen Luther
The central goal of a proper criminal justice system must be to maintain
a balance between the ind ividual interest of private citizens to car ry on
their lives free from state inter ference, and the communal interest in
maintaining a safe society. One of the most visible ways in which those
two goals come into conf‌lict with each other is when agents of the state
physically take control of private citizens: that is, when they exercise
their powers to detain or to arrest.
Powers to detain and arrest ar ise at a number of points in the cri m-
inal justice system, and i ndeed outside it. Travellers arriving in the
country are detained at customs. Motorists can be detained for a var-
iety of purposes, rang ing from checking the mechanical f‌itness of the
vehicle to determining the blood-alcohol level of the driver. Someone
accused of an offence might be detained pend ing trial or to be assessed
to determine f‌itness to stand trial, or he might be detained afterward,
whether pursuant to a sentence, following a f‌inding of not being cr im-
inally responsible, or for having been found to be a dangerous offender.
Statutory schemes authorize detent ion for immigration, deportation, or
security-related reasons. The police might arrest a person in order to
charge her with an offence, might arrest her at a later stage if a surety
for the accused’s bail withdraws, or might arrest her on a bench war-
rant if she fails to appear for trial. An absconding wit ness is subject to
being arrested.
This book does not attempt to deal with al l situations in which deten-
tions or arrests occ ur. Its focus is on “street-level” encounters, detentions

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