Criminal Damage Act 1971

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1971 c. 48


Criminal Damage Act 1971

1971 CHAPTER 48

An Act to revise the law of England and Wales as to offences of damage to property, and to repeal or amend as respects the United Kingdom certain enactments relating to such offences; and for connected purposes.

[14th July 1971]

B e it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty by, and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

S-1 Destroying or damaging property.

1 Destroying or damaging property.

(1) A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property, whether belonging to himself or another—

( a ) intending to destroy or damage any property or being reckless as to whether any property would be destroyed or damaged; and

( b ) intending by the destruction or damage to endanger the life of another or being reckless as to whether the life of another would be thereby endangered;

shall be guilty of an offence.

(3) An offence committed under this section by destroying or damaging property by fire shall be charged as arson.

S-2 Threats to destroy or damage property.

2 Threats to destroy or damage property.

A person who without lawful excuse makes to another a threat, intending that that other would fear it would be carried out,—

a ) to destroy or damage any property belonging to that other or a third person; or
b ) to destroy or damage his own property in a way which he knows is likely to endanger the life of that other or a third person

shall be guilty of an offence.

S-3 Possessing anything with intent to destroy or damage property.

3 Possessing anything with intent to destroy or damage property.

A person who has anything in his custody or under his control intending without lawful excuse to use it or cause or permit another to use it—

a ) to destroy or damage any property belonging to some other person; or
b ) to destroy or damage his own or the user's property in a way which he knows is likely to endanger the life of some other person

shall be guilty of an offence.

S-4 Punishment of offences.

4 Punishment of offences.

(1) A person guilty of arson under section 1 above or of an offence under section 1(2) above (whether arson or not) shall on conviction on indictment be liable to imprisonment for life.

(2) A person guilty of any other offence under this Act shall on conviction on indictment be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

S-5 ‘Without lawful excuse.’

5 ‘Without lawful excuse.’

(1) This section applies to any offence under section 1(1) above and any offence under section 2 or 3 above other than one involving a threat by the person charged to destroy or damage property in a way which he knows is likely to endanger the life of another or involving an intent by the person charged to use or cause or permit the use of something in his custody or under his control so to destroy or damage property.

(2) A person charged with an offence to which this section applies shall, whether or not he would be treated for the purposes of this Act as having a lawful excuse apart from this subsection, be treated for those purposes as having a lawful excuse—

( a ) if at the time of the act or acts alleged to constitute the offence he believed that the person or persons whom he believed to be entitled to consent to the destruction of or damage to the property in question had so consented, or would have so consented to it if he or they had known of the destruction or damage and its circumstances; or

( b ) if he destroyed or damaged or threatened to destroy or damage the property in question or, in the case of a charge of an offence under section 3 above, intended to use or cause or permit the use of something to destroy or damage it, in order to protect property belonging to himself or another or a right or interest in property which was or which he believed to be vested in himself or another, and at the time of the act or acts alleged to constitute the offence he believed—

(i) that the property, right or interest was in immediate need of protection; and

(ii) that the means of protection adopted or proposed to be adopted were or would be reasonable having regard to all the circumstances.

(3) For the purposes of this section it is immaterial whether a belief is justified or not if it is honestly held.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (2) above a right or interest in property includes any right or privilege in or over land, whether created by grant, licence or otherwise.

(5) This section shall not be construed as casting doubt on any defence recognised by law as a defence to criminal charges.

S-6 Search for things intended for use in committing offences of criminal damage.

6 Search for things intended for use in committing offences of criminal damage.

(1) If it is made to appear by information on oath before a justice of the peace that there is reasonable cause to believe that any person has in his custody or under his control or on his premises anything which there is reasonable cause to believe has been used or is intended for use without lawful excuse—

( a ) to destroy or damage property belonging to another; or

( b ) to destroy or damage any property in a way likely to endanger the life of another,

the justice may grant a warrant authorising any constable to search for and seize that thing.

(2) A constable who is authorised under this section to search premises for anything, may enter (if need be by force) and search the premises accordingly and may seize anything which he believes to have been used or to be intended to be used as aforesaid.

(3) The Police (Property) Act 1897 (disposal of property in the possession of the police) shall apply to property which has come into the possession of the police under this section as it applies to property which has come into the possession of the police in the circumstances mentioned in that Act.

S-7 Jurisdiction of magistrates' courts.

7 Jurisdiction of magistrates' courts.

(1) In Schedule 1 to the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952 (indictable offences triable summarily with the consent of the accused when adult), for paragraph 2 there shall be substituted the following paragraph:—

S-2

‘2. Offences under section 1(1), 2 and 3 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971’.

(2) No rule of law ousting the jurisdiction of magistrates courts to try offences where a dispute of title to property is involved shall preclude magistrates' courts from trying offences under this Act, or any other offences of destroying or damaging property.

S-8 Award of compensation on conviction of an offence under s. 1.

8 Award of compensation on conviction of an offence under s. 1.

(1) On conviction of any person of an offence under section 1 of this Act of destroying or damaging property belonging to another the court may, on application or otherwise, and on being satisfied as to the approximate cost of making good the loss of or damage to the property order him to pay to the person or any of the persons to whom the property belongs or belonged immediately before its destruction or damage such sum by way of compensation in respect of the whole or part of the loss of or damage to the property (not exceeding 400 in the case of a magistrates' court) as the court thinks just.

(2) Any order under this section for the payment of compensation made on conviction on indictment shall be treated for the purposes of sections 30 and 42(1) and (2) of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 (effect of appeals on orders for the restitution of property) as an order for the restitution of property; and where by reason of the quashing by the Court of Appeal of a person's conviction any such order under this section does not take effect, and on an appeal to the House of Lords the conviction is restored by that House, the House may make any order under this section which could be made on his conviction by the court which convicted him.

(3) Any order under this section for the payment of compensation made by a magistrates' court shall be suspended—

( a ) in any case until the expiration of the period for the time being prescribed by law for the giving of notice of appeal against a decision of a magistrates' court;

( b ) where notice of appeal is given within the period so prescribed, until the determination of the appeal.

(4) In Part I of Schedule 9 to the Administration of Justice Act 1970 (costs and compensation awarded against offenders and recoverable like fines imposed by magistrates' courts) after paragraph 9 there shall be inserted the following paragraph:—

S-9A

9A

‘9A. Where under section 8 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 a...

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