The Winsor principles send a clear message in support of fostering professionalism and discretion in policing. I would urge all bodies with an interest in policing to contribute fully and in detail to Tom Winsor's work on his second report. This work will map the way forwards for policing over the medium and long term. It represents an opportunity for change which comes only once every 25-30 years. That opportunity must not be missed.
Police Discretion | Criminology
Although the above approach to "young offender justice" may be heralded by some, the use of discretion in policing has also been the subject of some criticism. Specifically, it has been suggested that the use of discretion in police work can result in confusion over appropriate police practice which causes conflict at the operational level (James & Polk, 1996). Even more serious, however, is the claim that discretionary decision-making may provide an avenue for the introduction of police officers' personal and cultural biases into the application of the law. For example, White and Perrone (1997, p.62) state that, "far from being a neutral process, discretionary decision-making involves systematic procedural bias". It has also been alleged that the benefits of police discretion are selective because of the influence of different levels of compliance with officers' perceptions of offenders' appropriate attitude and demeanour (James & Polk, 1996).
Discretion - The Art of Law Enforcement - Rasmussen College
As a recent development in criminal justice scholarship, researchers have begun to focus upon the level of discretion that police officers have in enforcing the law. While administrators are often bound by bureaucratic regulations, law enforcement professionals at lower levels of the organization possess great leeway in the manner in which they perform their jobs. Because of the power that police have to deprive citizens of their life and liberties, the role of discretion in policing is of great concern to scholars and the public alike. At worse, too much discretion can allow for abusive behavior that neglects the interests of the public and undermines the law. However, when used appropriately, police discretion can enable police officers to effectively serve the public by enabling officers to make wise use of public resources, protect the public safety, and divert vulnerable populations from the criminal justice system.
National Institute of Justice: Problems of Police Discretion