Criminal Law Legislation Update

Publication Date01 May 2007
AuthorLaura McGowan
Criminal Law
Legislation Update*
Laura McGowan
Primary legislation
Assent on 8 November 2006. It contains two new offences. First the Act
makes it an offence to obstruct or hinder certain emergency workers
who are responding to emergency circumstances. Emergency workers
are def‌ined as f‌iref‌ighters, ambulance workers and those transporting
blood, organs or equipment on behalf of the NHS, coastguards and
lifeboat crews. The police already have their own obstruction offence in
the Police Act 1996. This also covers prison off‌icers by virtue of the
Prisons Act 1952, which says that prison off‌icers, whilst acting as such,
enjoy the same protections and privileges as a constable. There is no
need to duplicate those offences, so the 2006 Act does not include police
or prison off‌icers in the def‌inition of ‘emergency workers’.
Statutory instruments
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 (Commencement No. 1) (England)
Order 2007 (SI 2007 No. 562) brings into force the following provisions
of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 on 6 April 2007: ss 1–4; ss 5 and 6, to the
extent that they are not already in force; s. 7; s. 8(1), (2), (7) and (8);
ss 9–12; s. 13 and Sched. 1; ss 17–45; ss 51 and 52; s. 53 and Sched. 2;
ss 54–60; ss 62 and 63; s. 64 and Sched. 3, except insofar as they relate
to para. 3(1) of Sched. 3; s. 65 and Sched. 4 (except insofar as they relate
to the following entries in Sched. 4: s. 2 of the Pet Animals Act 1951; ss 2,
ss 37–39 of the Animal Health Act 1981 and para. 8 of Sched. 5 to that
Act); and s. 66.
Sections 1–3 set out the scope of the Act and def‌ine the different
categories of animal to which the Act applies. The Act will apply only to
vertebrate animals. Sections 2 and 3 establish the scope of the principal
offences under the Act. The cruelty and f‌ighting offences in ss 4–8
extend to ‘protected animals’ as def‌ined in s. 2, whereas the welfare
offence in s. 9 applies to animals for which a person is ‘responsible’ as
def‌ined under s. 3.
Section 2 def‌ines ‘protected animals’ as animals of a kind commonly
domesticated in the British Islands whether they can be said to be under
the control of man or not. This ensures that stray dogs and feral cats are
* As at 7 March 2007.
Criminal law tutor at University College, London, of King’s Inns (Dublin) and Gray’s
Inn (London): e-mail

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