Martin Wasik and Richard Taylor,
Blackstone's Guide to the Criminal Justice
and Public Order Act 1994.
Blackstone Press, London, 1995.
ISBN 1 85431 401 7 Price 19.95 sterling
Helen O'Nions LLM
Doctoral Candidate in Law at the University of Leicester. < email@example.com>
Copyright © 1995 Helen O'Nions. First Published in Web Journal of Current Legal Issues
in association with Blackstone Press Ltd.
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The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (hereafter 'the Act') is regarded by many
as the most draconian piece of legislation to surface since the Prevention of Terrorism
Act 1989 (which at least had the excuse of being an emergency measure). The scope of
the Act is wide-ranging. Among its more controversial provisions are: the creation of a
potential class of criminals by the provisions relating to unlawful camping; removal of
the right of a suspect to remain silent; the introduction of extended detention periods for
young offenders; and a strengthening of the public order provisions in a variety of
different situations. The need for a guide-book to navigate us through the maze of
procedural changes, new offences and sentencing increases cannot be denied. This is one
of several texts (see for example James Morton A Guide to the Criminal Justice and
Public Order Act 1994 (1994), Butterworths and the Home Office Guide to the
Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (1994) HMSO) claiming to piece
together a 'rag-bag of unrelated provisions'; the question of course is whether it succeeds
in meeting the fundamental criteria of a guide text.
Although we are given little information as to the intended readership of the text,
it is likely to prove useful to students and academics alike. Many will relish the benefits
of the inclusion of the full Act, uninterrupted by annotations, providing a quick and easy
reference point. Others, however, may dislike the inevitable repetition of information that
this entails. The authors organise the diverse range of provisions in the Act proficiently,
by grouping sections together to form six chapters in order to assess the implications of
the changes in specific areas: for example Chapter 2 assesses a variety of procedural
developments in relation to bail, juries and the abolition of committal proceedings.
Similarly the chapter on public order groups the offences in s 61 (amending the Public
Order Act 1986 s 39) through to the provisions on unlawful camping in ss 77-80.
This is a most effective method of assessing the ramifications of integral
provisions of the Act. With regard specifically to the travelling community, it is essential
that offences relating to aggravated trespass, unlawful camping and rave gatherings are
grouped together as it is likely that the different sections will be used to evict travellers
according to the particular situation. Many new travellers make their living in the summer
season by staging musical events on unauthorised land; their activities may now incur
criminal liability (under ss 63, 68, 70 or 77) and proceedings for removal and forfeiture of
sound equipment (s 66). It is, accordingly, fundamental to a comprehensive
understanding of the implications of these changes to have all the relevant public order
material contained in one section of the text. The approach taken by this book review is to
analyse the merits of the text by looking at the function of guides and assessing its ability
in meeting these criteria.
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Annotations should clarify and explain the legislation in the light of existing provisions,
using examples where necessary. Although the relevant statutory provisions are to be
found at the end of the text, rather than immediately preceding the annotation, the latter
refers to the provisions constantly and reminds the reader when appropriate. In all cases
the annotations clearly refer to the amended legislation and often discuss the effects of the
amending section. It is therefore not necessary for the reader to be knowledgeable of the
preceding legislation, for example:
"Section 46 of the CJPOA amends s 22(1) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980,
with the effect that the offence of criminal damage must now be tried summarily
whenever the value of the property alleged to have been damaged or destroyed is
£5,000 or less (rather than £2,000 or less, as in the previous law)." (p42)
The section explaining the role of the parole board (p 130) in the light of the Criminal
Justice Act 1991 and the Act is another particularly good example of a clarifying
annotation. There are few people who would claim to be knowledgeable regarding all the
provisions of the Act and yet the text approaches discussion in a way that is both readable
and informative (even the sections referring to the complex alterations to the Video
Recordings Act 1984). The authors' handling of these more intricate developments
provides insight for those researching in highly technical fields.
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Sufficient referencing of relevant
A guide such as this should undoubtedly include Royal Commission papers and other
primary sources where appropriate and the authors frequently refer to such sources. For
example, the section which clarifies the abolition of committal proceedings refers to the
Royal Commission on Criminal Justice (Report, Cm 2263, 1993), the Fraud Trials
Committee Report (1986) and the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure (1981,
Cmnd 8092) (p 39), thus enabling an interested reader to pursue research in the field with
ease. Reference is also made to relevant articles in specific areas, although in complex
areas it may have been preferable for monographs to have been suggested as opposed to
short articles. Reference is made (p 95), when discussing the provisions relating to
Gypsies, to an article by Thomas, "Housing Gypsies" (1992) 142 NLJ 1714 when there
are a number of more detailed articles which deal specifically with the law in question,
for example, Samuels 'Gypsy law' (1992) JPEL 719, and there are also several
monographs which could have been mentioned which would have been more informative,
for example J Okely, The Traveller Gypsies (1983) Cambridge University Press,
or A Fraser, The Gypsies (1992) Blackwell. However, it would be easier to
obtain the requisite references if they were to appear cited in full at the foot of the
particular section of text (see, for example, J Morton A Guide to The Criminal Justice
and Public Order Act 1994 (1994) Butterworths).
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The background to the provision should be explained where appropriate. It is helpful for a
guide text to provide some information on the background surrounding particularly
controversial developments. There are many such provisions in this particular legislation
and the authors clearly recognise the value of discussing specific sections within the
context of previous legislation and relevant debate. For example Chapter 6 looks at the
provisions relating to custodial institutions, the authors inform us that the contracting out
provisions should be viewed in the light of the death of Ernest Hogg: "The inquest on 15
February 1994 found that a lack of care had contributed to his death". This chapter also
benefits from reference to prisons which have already contracted out of state control via
specific statutory instruments (pp 120-122). The authors refer constantly to the
parliamentary debates as reported in Hansard and make occasional reference to rejected
amendments in order to clarify parliamentary thinking on a particular issue. For example,
the amendment tabled by Lord Donoghue to extend the provisions criminalising football
touting to other sporting activities (p 137). This amendment was later accepted in a
limited form, thereby allowing the Secretary of State to make an order to apply the
provisions to any specific event/category of activities where more than 6,000 persons are
present. Whilst this may not be perceived as integral to an introductory understanding of
the legislation, again, it should serve to stimulate research interests. It is also interesting
to note that the authors have made use of some illuminating statistics to present the
legislation in context. For example, we are presented with statistics from the Home
Affairs Committee and the British Crime Survey on the number of reported racial
incidents (p 98), the number of nuisance telephone calls traced by British Telecom (p
117) and even the cost of policing party political conferences (p 140).
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Substantive criticism of principle and
Wasik and Taylor provide a thorough and interesting account of general criticisms
levelled at the legislation. Their comments are both more detailed and more stimulating
than those provided by similar guides. In relation to the disqualification from jury service
of those on bail, it is stated:
"...the obvious problem of principle, of course, is that those who are on bail
awaiting trial are presumed by the law to be innocent of the charges against
them." (p 37)
In discussing the debate surrounding the confiscation of vehicles belonging to public
order offenders, the authors assert:
"It should not be forgotten that in many cases the vehicles involved will constitute
the homes of the persons concerned. Their destruction will be the destruction of
the place where they live." (p 84)
They also provide some interesting individual arguments, such as the comments of Lord
McIntosh of Haringey on the provisions concerning public order:
"These are repulsive extensions of police power in our society and at some stage
they will have to be removed." (p 81)
Similarly, the comments of Lord Taylor of Gosforth CJ on the proposal, suggested by the
Criminal Law Revision Committee, to enable a judge to call upon the accused to give
evidence before a criminal court. He argued vociferously that such a proposal was:
"[likely to] produce undesirable and unfair results....To speak of the defendant
being 'called upon' to give evidence does not lie easily with the principle still
intact...that the defendant has a free choice whether to give evidence." (p 66)
It is also acknowledged that there may be procedural difficulties in implementing certain
provisions and in many areas the authors endeavour to provide their own critical analysis,
questioning the rationale of increased fine levels for cannabis possession (p 27), the
inferences to be drawn when a suspect fails to mention facts when questioned or charged
(p 52), and the inclusion of a provision relating to the prohibition on use of female germ
cells from human embryos or foetuses (p 138).
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Overall a guide of this nature should ultimately serve to inform the reader and to provoke
debate. A particular attribute in this respect is the critique offered by the authors which is
inserted into the annotations and serves to realise this purpose. In relation to squatting,
the writers contend that there may be some public sympathy for those who are homeless
who elect to occupy council housing which is lying vacant and also inform us that in
1993 there were 3,000 council houses being occupied by squatters (p 92). Whilst readers
may disagree with the general premise that these provisions will serve to increase the
number of homeless people on the streets, these comments certainly encourage further
In the Preface to the text, Wasik and Taylor assert:
"We have tried both to describe the meaning of various provisions and to access
[sic] their likely impact in the courts. We have sought to identify the problems
which the Act sets out to resolve and the further difficulties which it may create."
A guide to legislation is necessarily constrained by space limitation in the amount of
analysis it can provide. Bearing this in mind, Wasik and Taylor have certainly fulfilled
their objectives. They have also gone further by providing some illuminating insights into
the rationale behind the Act and numerous focal points for argument. The Criminal
Justice and Public Order Act 1994 encompasses a massive range of provisions. For those
trying to get an immediate grasp of so many disparate developments, this book provides
an ideal starting point, and many useful references for follow-up work.
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