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date: 22 January 2020


A Dictionary of Law Enforcement

Graham Gooch,

Michael Williams


The power, held by police officers as holders of the office of constable, to decide whether and how, within legal bounds, they enforce the law. The part of discretion most often used is the power not to take action. Other professionals in the criminal justice system also have the power of discretion in the performance of their professional roles. In particular, prosecutors have the discretion not to initiate or continue with proceedings if it is not in the public interest to prosecute. See also judicial discretion.