Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

309 offences taken off statute book

309 offences have been repealed from the statue book, the Ministry of Justice says

Incorrigible rogues can sleep safely at night - it is no longer a criminal offence to be one in England and Wales.

"Being an incorrigible rogue", under the Vagrancy Act 1824, is one of 309 offences to be repealed and removed from the statute book in the year to May. This is compared to 201 offences repealed in the previous 12 month period.

Other crimes removed in the period include "s olemnising marriage outside specified hours" under the Marriage Act 1949, which was repealed by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which removed restrictions on the time of day marriages or civil partnerships can take place.

The figures released by the Ministry of Justice show only one offence - "c onspire to sell/transfer a pistol it being a prohibited weapon" - had any prosecutions from January 2008 to September 2013, with a total of 16 prosecutions between 2011 and 2012.

A total of 327 new criminal offences were created in the same period, a 12% increase compared with the previous 12 months.

There was only one indictable only offence created - that is, it is so serious it can only be tried in a Crown court - under the Antarctic Act 2013, which makes it a crime to carry out activities in Antarctica, which directly or indirectly give rise to an environmental emergency and are connected with the UK.

The Vagrancy Act 1824 was an "act for the punishment of idle and disorderly persons, and rogues and vagabonds".

It was brought in to deal with problems in England following the Napoleonic Wars as large numbers of soldiers were discharged on to the streets with no job and no accommodation.

The Act, which essentially made it an offence to sleep on the streets or to beg, is still in force but has been amended several times by later legislation.

Of the offences repealed in the period to May, 2% were indictable-only offences, 51% were summary-only offences, which can be tried in a magistrates' court, and 47% were triable either way.

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