What is the common understanding of police entrapment?
Police entrapment occurs when a law enforcer such as a police constable causes a person to commit an offence with the intention of prosecution for that offence. (For example, posing, or hiring someone to pose as a street prostitute and waiting for a ‘kerb crawler’ to attempt to solicit for the services of the prostitute from their vehicle).
What constitutes Entrapment?
As understood in UK criminal law, for a person to fall foul of entrapment, a law enforcement agent would have induced a person to commit an offence that otherwise they would have had no intention to commit.
Taking the above prostitute example, an undercover agent posing as a street prostitute only engages in activity considered to be entrapment if they deliberately solicit or coerce the business of a passer-by (kerb crawler). If for example, the street prostitute makes no obvious attempt to solicit, and the unwitting customer makes it clear his intentions are to publicly solicit the business of the prostitute, in the eyes of the law i.e. a judge at trial can uphold that the behaviour observed was not manipulated by the undercover agent, rather more they were merely acting how they would have done with or without the police presence. The take home ethos behind entrapment is simply creating an opportunity for a crime to be committed is not entrapment.
Police entrapment and court proceedings
The issue of evidence gained from police entrapment activity in court cases is a hazy area in terms of how relevant it is in conviction; Sometimes, where criminal activity has been ‘encouraged’ or facilitated by a law enforcement officer, evidence derived may not ‘stand up in court’ when it is considered that the integrity of the legal system is in jeopardy due to such actions.
For more information on:
- Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
- Entrapment as a defence?