Thursday, November 10, 2022 - 13:00 to 14:00
Hybrid (in-person and via Zoom)
Police Work and the Inevitability of Discretion: Reconsidering the Relationship between Law and Police Decision-Making


This hybrid seminar hosted by the UNSW Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (CCLJ) will take place in-person at the UNSW Law & Justice Building (level 2 staff common room) and online via Zoom. Please indicate your attendance preference on checkout. For those attending in person, a light lunch will be served from 12:30pm.

This paper re-examines some of the key accounts of police discretion that have dominated the sociological and criminological literature on police decision-making since the 1960s. In particular, it considers whether it is true to say that broad, largely unsupervised discretion remains an inescapable apart of the modern police work, and asks whether that discretion - and its relationship to the powers and duties of the police - needs to be re-conceived with a view to subjecting it to more effective statutory regulation and oversight in countries like Australia and Canada.


Benjamin Goold is a Professor at the Allard School of Law, and was until recently a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Faculty of Law and Justice, UNSW. His major research interests include privacy rights, the use of surveillance technologies by the police and intelligence communities, and the rhetoric and language of human rights. He is the author of numerous works on privacy, surveillance, and security, including CCTV and Policing (Oxford University Press) and Security and Human Rights (Hart Publishing; edited with Liora Lazarus). Among his more recent publications are works on the social and political dimensions of privacy, the relationship between human rights and constitutional responsibilities, the sociology of security consumption, and the implications of trusted traveller programmes for human rights.

Professor Goold has acted as an independent advisor to the UK Identity and Passport Service on matters of regulation and data sharing and served as Specialist Legal Advisor to a major House of Lords inquiry into surveillance and data collection in Britain. He is a member of the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner's External Advisory Board and has recently completed an expert report on police discretion for the Mass Casualty Commission established by the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia.