Criminal law revision committee

This body was set up in 1959 and worked part time to review areas of the criminal law.

The job of the Criminal Law Revision Committee was "to examine such aspects of the criminal law of England and Wales as the Home Secretary may from time to time refer to the Committee, to consider whether the law requires revision and to make recommendations"

The Committee was made up of senior judges, circuit judges, the chief London stipendiary magistrate, the director of public prosecutions and practising and academic lawyers. This selection of committee members followed the principle that the reforms would have the support of the judiciary.

In all, 18 reports were produced covering a range of things. Some of the most important reports related to:

  • the recommendation of abolishing the felony/misdemeanour distinction - implemented by the Criminal Law Act 1967 and the Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967
  • important changes in the law of evidence;
  • on offences against the person, including homicide;
  • and on sexual offences.

Not all their ideas were accepted but some notable successes were:

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the Theft Act 1968.

Although never formally abolished, less work was referred to it, and by 1986 it was superseded by the Law Commission.


It is interesting to note that the Public Order Act 1986, which was introduced without the committee's help, is now under review by the Law Commission.



Give judges discretion in murder sentencing | Simon Creighton

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