Criminal Justice in China
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Criminal Justice in China

An Empirical Inquiry

Mike McConville

The political, economic and social transformations that have taken place in China over the last half-century have had a major impact upon the formal methods, institutions and mechanisms used to deal with alleged criminal infractions. This path-breaking book, based upon the largest and most systematic empirical inquiry ever undertaken in China, analyses the extent to which changes to the formal legal structure have resulted in changes to the law in practice.
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Chapter 3: Police powers in relation to detention and arrest

Mike McConville


INTRODUCTION The purpose of this chapter is to explain the powers granted to the police to detain, arrest and interrogate suspects, to grant bail or to impose residential surveillance pending further investigation or trial. This is followed by a presentation of the data gathered by this and various other studies in order to throw light on how, in practice, the police utilize their powers in the investigation of crime and the collection of evidence in respect of those who are suspected of criminal involvement. It should be noted that the research methodologies used in the present study focused on extracting data from ‘dead’ case files, observing trials, and interviewing prosecutors, defence lawyers and judges. The principal advantages and disadvantages of adopting this approach are set out in Appendix 2. A major advantage of using ‘dead’ files is that they cannot be ‘doctored’ so as to influence the research. One of the drawbacks of this approach is that our knowledge of the decisions taken by police and suspects and the reasoning underlying those decisions is restricted. Our researchers were not positioned within police stations and our data are reliant upon what official actors within the criminal process chose to record within the case files.1 We do not deal with wider police powers (as to which see Ma Yue, 2003) such as those relating to the search of persons and premises and the power to seize material evidence since we had neither direct access to the police nor indirect knowledge of how...

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