European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) CPT/Inf(2002)15-part Developments concerning CPT standards in respect of police custody Extract from the 12th General Report of the CPT, published in 2002 32. More than a decade has elapsed since the CPT described, in its 2nd General Report, some of the main issues pursued by the Committee in relation to police custody. In the meantime, the Committee has carried out more than a hundred further visits and the number of Parties to the Convention has practically doubled. Naturally, the CPT's standards in respect of police custody have gradually evolved, in the light of new situations encountered and experience gathered. Following the approach taken in its 11th General Report in respect of imprisonment, the CPT would like to highlight in its 12th General Report a miscellany of issues related to police custody which illustrate the development of the CPT's standards. 33. It is essential to the good functioning of society that the police have the powers to apprehend, temporarily detain and question criminal suspects and other categories of persons. However, these powers inherently bring with them a risk of intimidation and physical ill-treatment. The essence of the CPT's work is to seek ways of reducing that risk to the absolute minimum without unduly impeding the police in the proper exercise of their duties. Encouraging developments in the field of police custody have been noted in a number of countries; however, the CPT's findings also highlight all too often the need for continuing vigilance. 34. The questioning of criminal suspects is a specialist task which calls for specific training if it is to be performed in a satisfactory manner. First and foremost, the precise aim of such questioning must be made crystal clear: that aim should be to obtain accurate and reliable information in order to discover the truth about matters under investigation, not to obtain a confession from someone already presumed, in the eyes of the interviewing officers, to be guilty. In addition to the provision of appropriate training, ensuring adherence of law enforcement officials to the above-mentioned aim will be greatly facilitated by the drawing up of a code of conduct for the questioning of criminal suspects. 35. Over the years, CPT delegations have spoken to a considerable number of detained persons in various countries, who have made credible claims of having been physically ill-treated, or otherwise intimidated or threatened, by police officers trying to obtain confessions in the course of interrogations. It is self-evident that a criminal justice system which places a premium on confession evidence creates incentives for officials involved in the investigation of crime - and often under pressure to obtain results - to use physical or psychological coercion. In the context of the prevention of torture and other forms of ill-treatment, it is of fundamental importance to develop methods of crime investigation capable of reducing reliance on confessions, and other evidence and information obtained via interrogations, for the purpose of securing convictions.

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