Offences Against the Person Act 1861

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There has been much discussion on the Offences against the person act (OAPA) 1861. Many see the act as outdated and clumsy, its wording unclear and as being difficult to explain and prosecute under. The OAPA is used in 100,000 prosecutions every year. The Law Commission has attacked the OAPA for creating constant legal argument and delay because of unclear wording and wasting thousands of pounds in taxpayer's money in appeals. Both the Law Commission and the Government have looked at possible reforms for the act in order to improve its position in English Law. The 1861 Act is widely criticised for being archaic and unclear, it is in urgent need of reform. It is hoped that after the change have been made that the statute will be able to be used more effectively and efficiently. The criticisms of the OAPA have been around for several years. Many lawyers and judges have expressed difficulties in using the act and there have been Law Commissions set up to look into the act itself. Jack Straw has described the act as "out-moded and unclear Victorian legislation"[1] The wording used in the act is now frequently used in everyday language which has led to differences in meaning and problems in interpreting the statute. Words such as Grievous Bodily Harm and Actual Bodily Harm are widely used, however this does not mean that the offences are easily understood or effective in dealing with violent behaviour. Some lawyers have even argued that the state of the OAPA leads to unnecessary and expensive appeals because of the decisions on questions of law. Criticism is made often on the way in which the offences themselves are worded. Th... ... middle of paper ... ...ing the police to explain and charge offences which are more widely understood. It is also hoped that the task of judges, magistrates and juries will become more straightforward in the administration of justice. Bibliography Violence: Reforming the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, published 1998. www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs/vroapa.html Law for AQA, Catherine Elliot and Francis Quinn, Longman 2001 Update of assault law may include AIDS and stalking, Francis Gibb 15.9.97 --------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] Jack Straw; Violence: Reforming the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (pub. 1998) www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs/vroapa.html [2] Jack Straw; Violence: Reforming the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (pub 1998) www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs/vroapa.html

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