Penal Issues (2006->) mars 2005

WHEN THE POLICE GO TO COURT. A STUDY OF CONTEMPT, OBSTRUCTION AND ASSAULT ON A POLICE OFFICER

par Fabien JOBARD, Marta ZIMOLAG,

Fabien JOBARD, assisted by Marta ZIMOLAG, describes a study of court decisions between 1965 and 2003 in cases involving offences against persons holding public authority. He looks at possible interpretations of trends in these offences, then raises some questions as to the discriminations observed, depending on the types of individuals prosecuted.

Offences against individuals who are "depositories of the public authority" are definitely revealing of tensions between police officers and "youths known to the police". On the one hand, they are used by the police forces as indicators measuring urban violence. But also, because they are unique in that the people who record them are also those who claim to be the victims, they are viewed by the accused as embodying the discretionary element of police power. These offences therefore reveal a crucial part of what goes on with police interaction with the population.

 

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