Talk:Offences Against the Person Act 1861

Latest comment: 4 years ago by ToastButterToast in topic Commas


What categories does this belong in? Josh Parris#: 12:04, 19 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I was going to put it into Criminal law when it is finished since its only significance is as a listing of the offences on a single page to support separate pages describing the substantive offences. It is possible that it also has some historical significance if we reimport some of the repealed offences and enlarge upon their contemporary relevance to the Victorians. David91 15:12, 19 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Help pleaseEdit

I think I have correctly identified which sections are still in force and which are repealed but I am without all my reference books of old so can someone please consult Halsbury to verify my attributions. I have moved the text of the abortion provision into the UK abortion page but hesitated to transfer the bigamy provision because that would put it on the polygamy page. Anyway, I am now bored with this task and leave it to all of you to finish it off. The repealed sections are all at Offences Against The Person Act 1861 (repealed) David91 05:51, 20 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sections that have been repealed/changed/added may, however, not correspond in the UK and in Ireland, the other successor state to the then United Kingdom. Do we need another article on "Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (Republic of Ireland)" to reflect the divergence after 1922? It is still a "big" act in Ireland (and our favourite hot potato) because it is the current abortion legislation.--Dub8lad1 00:57, 12 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Why does an article about a British Law contain American spellings in the text, i.e. "misdemeanor"? Is the suggestion that those the wrote the document in Victorian Britain used American-English? Or (more plausibly) has this text been deliberately mangled from it's original form into illiterate Americanese?! Clearly, Americans would be pretty quick to leap on any Brit correcting any of the "English" on articles pertaining to America; therefore it's reasonable to demand the same treatment of British articles. More to the point, it's a fraud to quote a text and change the spelling. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:25, 7 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi: No, the old English spelling was adopted by America. It is us Brits that have changed the spelling!

Offences Against The Person Act 1861

The Old Bailey 1678

Ron Barker (talk) 13:56, 16 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Homosexual offencesEdit

I have moved the following material to this page because it is outside of the scope of this article:

Buggery between heterosexuals ceased to be an offence in 1994. The age of consent to homosexual buggery and to certain other homosexual acts was reduced by the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 from 18 to 16 years in England and Wales. Almost all sexual offences are today contained in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. —Preceding unsigned comment added by James500 (talkcontribs) 16:06, 11 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sexual offencesEdit

The Sexual Offences section needs to be reviewed as much of it has been superseded by the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Malcolm.boura (talk) 19:59, 3 December 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is explained in the section relating to sexual offences. Details of repeals and the replacement of provisions by other Acts (chiefly the 1956 Act) are given if you look closely. This article is suppossed to be a description of the 1861 Act, not the present law on sexual offences. It would help me if you could tell me what you think is wrong with the section. James500 (talk) 20:17, 3 December 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Child stealingEdit

Just watched a repeat of an old Upstairs, Downstairs episode where Mrs Bridges was charged under the Offences against young persons act 1861 - so it seems they got the year right, having come here to check if this was accurate. I assume it's under the 'Child stealing' section as in the article. Probably too trivial to mention in the article proper however.--Tuzapicabit (talk) 03:54, 18 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


This Act was adopted in New Zealand in 1866, according to Abortion in New Zealand. James500 (talk) 00:39, 5 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


List of repeals and amendments in the Republic of Ireland [1] James500 (talk) 15:23, 6 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cut from section 4Edit

I have cut the following passage as it is plainly wrong.

Abdullah el-Faisal, a radical Muslim cleric who preached in the UK until imprisoned for stirring up hatred, was in 2003 the first person convicted under this Act in more than a century.[1][2]

Firstly, annual convictions for all offences under the Offences against the Person Act 1861 have been very high ever since the thing was passed, as it still contains the main offences of non-fatal violence. For statistics, for example, see report number 218 of the Law Commission which was published in 1992, and consultation paper number 122 (gives the number of cases under ss 18, 20 and 47 tried on indictment in 1988 as 17,167), both available as a pdfs from BAILII.

Secondly, if this claim is supossed, despite its literal meaning, to refer specifically to convictions under section 4 of that Act (the offence of soliciting to murder), there was a conviction in R v Shephard [1919] 2 KB 125, 14 Cr App R 26, CCA, and that is only 84 years, not more than a century. That case is mentioned in the 1999 edition of Archold. I don't have time to go on a trawl through statistics but the suggestion that there have been no convictions under section 4 for long periods of time is not believable.

A claim like this should be sourced from statistics from the Home Office, published in a command paper, or perhaps Hansard, not the Jamaica Observer or a book that is only marginally related to the subject, as they are not reliable sources. [I forgot to sign this post. James500 (talk) 15:37, 11 September 2011 (UTC)]Reply[reply]

I have had a look at the official statistics for 1999 and 2000. When I looked at the "small print" at the end on page 256 of the PDF, I found that unfortunately they are not collecting separate statistics for section 4, but are instead grouping soliciting to murder together with conspiracy to murder (Criminal Law Act 1977, s 1), making threats to kill (section 16 of the 1861 Act) and certain cases of assisting an offender (Criminal Law Act 1967, s 4) under the misleading heading of "threat or conspiracy to murder", which makes it impossible to determine how many people were convicted under section 4 and might be the reason why these claims are being made. James500 (talk) 15:30, 11 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And see this conviction reported by the BBC on 21 December 2001. That is over a year earlier and the article does not suggest that this is an unusual occurrance. James500 (talk) 22:27, 11 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That was alot of information to digest. But I actually still think reference to Faisal may be warranted, as he is specifically mentioned by the Joint Committee on Human Rights as "worth noting" in the context of Section 59 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and similar restrictions on speech:
  • Joint Committee on Human Rights, Parliament of the United Kingdom (2005). Counter-Terrorism Policy And Human Rights: Terrorism Bill and related matters: Oral and Written Evidence. Counter-Terrorism Policy And Human Rights: Terrorism Bill and related matters. Vol. 2. The Stationery Office. p. 114.
Int21h (talk) 22:49, 8 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


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Requested move 21 March 2018Edit

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: consensus to retain the current title at this time, per the discussion below. Dekimasuよ! 05:32, 3 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Offences Against the Person Act 1861Offences against the Person Act 1861 – This page was moved in January on the assumption that the citation of Acts of Parliament that have a statutory short tile is a matter of stylistic choice. Unfortunately that is not correct. The Short Titles Act 1896 says that this statute *must* be cited for legal purposes as "The Offences against the Person Act 1861", and not by any other short title, because no other short title is authorised. What the Short Titles Act 1896 says about the citation of this statute is not a stylistic suggestion that anyone has a choice about following. The instruction to use that particular short title is a completely obligatory command from the Queen in Parliament (the technical name for the legislature) that has the full force of law. What the Short Titles Act 1896 says *is* THE LAW. You do not have a choice about whether you want to follow it; with laws like this one, you never do have a choice. That is the nature of laws. The Short Titles Act 1896 is not a 'style guide', as a certain editor has claimed, it is THE LAW. James500 (talk) 04:28, 21 March 2018 (UTC) --Relisted.  Paine Ellsworth  put'r there  18:57, 28 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Relist comment. WikiProjects "Politics of the United Kingdom", "Law" and "Ireland" have been notified of this debate.  Paine Ellsworth  put'r there  19:17, 28 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The editor responsible for the move in January has tried to argue that because certain non-statutory sources are in the habit of capitalising the word "against" when they mention this Act, we can do the same. Unfortunately, that argument will not wash because of the doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty and the enrolled Bill rule. Under the doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty, a proposition of law contained in an Act of Parliament can never be wrong. If an Act of Parliament says that the law is such and such, that statement is always correct, because the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty says it is always correct. It is not possible to reject or question the authority of an Act of Parliament, and it is not possible to use a non-statutory source in order to do that. If there is a contradiction between what an Act of Parliament says the law is on the one hand, and what a non-statutory source says the law is on the other hand, then the Act of Parliament is always right, and the non-statutory source is always wrong. The fact that the non-statutory source happens to have been published by a government department is irrelevant, because the executive branch of government does not have the authority or legal power to amend or suspend the operation of an Act of Parliament. The bottom line is that the Short Titles Act 1896 creates a statutory rule of law about how the Act of 1861 is correctly cited for legal purposes. The fact that certain non-statutory commentary, that is not part of any Act of Parliament, on the website happens to capitalise the word "against" cannot change the law about the correct citation of the Act of 1861 created by the Short Titles Act 1896, because the department who created that website simply do not have the legal power to amend the Short Titles Act 1896, or any other Act of Parliament. In particular, the page headings, and the other commentary generally, on that website are not part of any Act of Parliament, and do not have the force of law in the way that the Short Titles Act 1896 does, or in any other way for that matter. The non-statutory material on that website cannot legally release you from having to do what the Short Titles Act 1896 says you legally have to do. Now, let me explain what might happen if someone was to capitalise the word "against" when citing the Act of 1861 in a legal document. Suppose that an indictment is preferred for an offence under the Act of 1861, and that indictment refers to the Act as "the Offences Against the Person Act 1861" (with the word "against" capitalised). In such a case, the judge on appeal might decide that the indictment is defective because the indictment does not cite the Act of 1861 in the way that the Short Titles Act 1896 says that the Act of 1861 *must* be cited for legal purposes. (Ie he might decide the citation is not legally valid). This would result in the defendant being automatically acquitted. And the defendant can't be re-tried with a corrected indictment because of the double jeopardy rule. Oops! This level of judicial obstructivism can and has actually happened in the courts. Huge numbers of defendants have been acquitted because of technical errors in indictments. An extreme example is that during the nineteenth century it was apparently possible to be acquitted of murder because the indictment failed to specify the financial value of the murder weapon, or failed to allege that the accused had been "inspired by the Devil", or failed to say a lot of other silly nonsense! (Bear in mind the Act of 1896 was around at a time when the rules regarding indictments etc were harsher than today under the Indictments Act 1916 and Indictment Rules 1971 etc, and we have to write that history). So it is very important that Wikipedia articles about Acts of Parliament follow the exact wording of those Acts to the letter. Because if we don't do that, we are giving readers misleading information that might have real world consequences for those readers if they act on what we told them, such as the hypothetical defective indictment described above. Similar problems with medical topics led to WP:MEDRS, and I am starting to think that a guideline on WP:PARLIAMENTARYSOVEREIGNTYRS is urgently needed to stop this kind of WP:RANDYish nonsense. I also wish to point out that there is no common law power to invent a new short title for an Act of Parliament. Short titles are a purely statutory invention, devised by Parliament in the 1840s. If a short title is not authorised by an Act of Parliament, it cannot legally be used for legal purposes. And the name being proposed by the other editor is not authorised by any Act of Parliament. Because the Short Titles Act 1896 simply does not say what that editor would like it to say. James500 (talk) 04:28, 21 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is a contested technical request (permalink). -- AlexTW 05:01, 21 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I have added a second signature line to the request so that this large block of text does not take over WP:RM. I would suggest that User:James500 make it explicit that although there is a discussion of the law here, he does not intend his comments as legal threats. Dekimasuよ! 05:41, 21 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • @User:Dekimasu: Although there is a discussion of the law here, my comments are not legal threats. I hope that satisfies you. James500 (talk) 05:55, 21 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  • Oppose. The rationale above completely misses the point. The correct article title is the one that satisfies the article title policy. The legally correct name is just another official name, and the legislation cited is not binding on Wikipedia. Andrewa (talk) 05:30, 28 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose. See the header to the debate - it is all based on the article title policy. Wikipedia is not a legal environment, UK or otherwise, and cannot be asked to somehow track the legal requirements of 192, or so, sovereign jurisdictions, never mind all the other forms. No one disputes the requestor's logic, when it comes to relevant legal documents; that simply is not connected to the capitalisation of a single letter in a Wikipedia article title, and if we start following this kind of logic, we complicate existing rules further.SeoR (talk) 19:28, 28 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I am under the impression that the capitalisation I asked for is the WP:COMMONNAME as well. I am also under the impression that it is generally the less reliable sources that get the capitalisation wrong. The main publishers of English law books are Sweet & Maxwell and Butterworths, and they certainly know better than to get the name wrong (see eg Archbold (1999 ed) and Card, Cross and Jones (1992 ed). The main legal periodicals and law reports seem to be the same, as do most official publications. These sort of sources publish so much on this subject that they can probably shout down the opposition, who don't publish as much, as far as I am aware. Another problem is that the present article title will likely lead to endless violations of WP:V in the article text by editors who don't know any better, the sources invoked being strictly unreliable for anything other than the personal opinions (generally speculations) of their authors (and I am inclined to invoke WP:IAR at this point because I know what an incredibly persistent serious nuisance WP:RANDY can be when he gets a factually wrong idea fixed in his head). Accordingly, I continue to support the proposal. James500 (talk) 23:15, 30 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose Unless I'm interpreting the Short Titles Act incorrectly, the proper short title is actually 'The Offences against the Person Act, 1861'. So 'Offences against the Person Act 1861' would also be wrong by the definitions provided in statute. is an amazing legal source provided by the British Government, and that uses 'Offences Against the Person Act 1861' when referring to the act. If it's fine for the British government it's fine for Wikipedia. ToastButterToast (talk) 03:35, 2 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(1) Actually that website has been known to contain errors. In the past they have got the short titles of Acts wrong by including the year when that was not part of the short title, and by failing to apply repeals and other amendments to Acts. And when members of the public have written to them and pointed out that there was an error, they have agreed there was a mistake and corrected the error. I recall one instance where they got the year of a statutory instrument wrong in a way that made it look like the instrument had been made in the twenty-second or twenty-third century. I'm not sure if that was ever corrected. The point is that they may not have chosen to capitalise the word "against" on purpose. They might have done that by accident. The database is very large and there are many other Acts. If someone were to point out the error, they might actually fix it, assuming their attitude is the same as it was a number of years ago. (2) I don't see why "if its good enough for" is a better argument than "if its good enough for command papers issued by other goverment departments, for Butterworths, for Sweet and Maxwell, for other Acts of Parliament etc". The present page name isn't stable, it is the result of a recent move, and if neither capitalisation is better, things should go back to the status quo. James500 (talk) 19:06, 2 April 2018 (UTC) Technically the omission of the definite article is erroneous and it does result in editors trying to change the content of articles to match the page name. That omission can however perhaps be defended on grounds that, if the definite article was included, the result would be hideously ugly links or a large number of piped links. The capital A doesn't have any positive benefits. James500 (talk) 19:18, 2 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What about the omission of the comma before the year? Again, if the article title was to strictly follow the Short Titles Act (which it shouldn't) then correct title would be 'The Offences against the Person Act, 1861'. Anyway, this argument is somewhat irrelevant, all the matters is what the most commonly used name is (WP:COMMONNAME) and ability to reach a consensus here on what the article title should be. ToastButterToast (talk) 20:14, 2 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose at least as argued. The UK legal standard is not binding, we are not citing this for legal purposes, and anyone framing an indictment would surely know enough to check the proper official source for the exact name, if that is important in UK law. What matters to us is the COMMONNAME, and I see little above to show that the proposed name is the common name. DES (talk)DESiegel Contribs 04:43, 3 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]


From above: No one disputes the requestor's logic, when it comes to relevant legal documents; that simply is not connected to the capitalisation of a single letter in a Wikipedia article title, and if we start following this kind of logic, we complicate existing rules further. [2] Very well put. Andrewa (talk) 21:48, 28 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Is this an attempt at humour? I can't tell on this website. That maxim isn't always applied. Sometimes the law (for which read legislators and judges) is massively obsessed with absurdly trivial things. The flip side of things like de minimis is the literal rule which can be and has been taken to extremes. James500 (talk) 05:16, 31 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.


  • (1) In answer to the question posed above, there is case law to the effect that punctuation is not part of an Act of Parliament, namely, Duke of Devonshire v O'Connor (1890) 24 QBD 468 at 478, where Lord Esher says "in an Act of Parliament there are no such things as brackets any more than there are such things as stops". Noel Hutton QC, First Parliamentary Counsel, said, with respect to commas in Acts of Parliament generally, and in short titles in particular, the correct interpretation is to ignore them: "The Citation of Statutes" 82 Law Quarterly Review 24-24. In the Republic of Ireland, to which this Act extends, section 14(3)(a) of the Interpretation Act 2005 expressly authorises the omission of the comma. (2) I have been informed that capitalisation is not considered a form of punctuation. James500 (talk) 01:29, 4 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just leave it, nobody cares. ToastButterToast (talk) 07:04, 4 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]