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The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) was an innovative and controversial attempt to regulate the investigation of crime. Two decades on, it now operates in a very different context than in the mid-1980s. Whilst legal advice has become established as a basic right of those arrested and detained by the police, the police service has become both increasingly professionalised but also increasingly driven by government objectives and targets. The Crown Prosecution Service, originally established to separate prosecution from investigation, is now becoming involved in the investigative process with the power to make charge decisions.
Although the basic structure of PACE has survived, almost continual revision and amendment has resulted in a markedly different creature than that which was originally enacted. Further changes are imminent as the government has embarked on a further review of PACE, promising to 're-focus the investigation and evidence gathering processes [to deliver] 21st century policing powers to meet the demands of 21st century crime'.