Understanding Discretion in Modern Policing

15 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2015

See all articles by Simon H Bronitt

Simon H Bronitt

University of Sydney Law School

Philip Stenning

Griffith University

Date Written: 2011


Discretion is a ubiquitous and legitimate aspect of modern policing, though its scope and limits are poorly understood. In this article, the authors seek to refine our understanding of discretion in modern policing by examining the historical evolution of the concept, and the modern challenges facing individual officers and police organisations in reconciling, on the one hand, the duty to enforce the law fairly and impartially, and on the other hand, the need to temper strict law enforcement for sound policy and operational reasons. The article reviews recent case law in Canada exploring these tensions within policing and the proper limits of police discretion.

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Bronitt, Simon H and Stenning, Philip, Understanding Discretion in Modern Policing (2011). Criminal Law Journal, 35 6: 319-332, 2011; University of Queensland TC Beirne School of Law Research Paper No. 15-30. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2611449

Simon H Bronitt (Contact Author)

University of Sydney Law School ( email )

The University of Sydney
New Law School
Sydney, NSW

Philip Stenning

Griffith University ( email )

170 Kessels Road
Nathan, Queensland QLD 4111

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