Sense and Sensitivity

  • Michael S. Pike


Lord Scarman’s summary of the principle of ‘consent and balance’ referred to in the chapter on ‘Discretion’ stressed the importance of the commonsense exercise of discretion and that the existence of discretion enables the police to act with sensitivity as well as firmly and fairly.1 This suggests that a discussion on sense and sensitivity is merely an extension of the views expressed on discretion and it is true that discretion includes the application of common sense and sensitivity. Sensitivity, like discretion, operates at different levels and the sensitivity referred to by Lord Scarman was in respect of enforcement policies and policing generally. His comments were directed at those officers who are responsible for operational policies and the style of policing to be adopted in particular areas.


Police Officer Police Action Police Service Crisis Intervention Street Level 
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  1. 6.
    M. C. Dix and A. D. Layzell, Road Users and the Police (Croom Helm/The Police Foundation, 1983) p. 135.Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    Research indicates that there is scope for the police to improve their service to victims. Police inaction was a source of complaint which suggested a need for the police to explain more clearly why little can be done and to provide victims with realistic expectations. M. Hough and P. Mayhew The British Crime Survey, Home Office Research Study no. 76, (HMSO, 1983).Google Scholar

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© Michael S. Pike 1985

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  • Michael S. Pike

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