Recent Book: Criminal Law: Text and Materials

Published date01 October 1985
Date01 October 1985
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1177/0032258X8505800422
Subject MatterRecent Book
R. M.
PHILLIPS
Commandant of the Police Staff College and one suspects that it cannot have been
an easy task. That the Director of Human Rights in his preface records his gratitude
to the author "for the patience and sympathy with which he faced and acted upon
the comments and suggestions of all those who were consulted" sounds suspiciously
like an apology for pedantry. The result is a somewhat pedagogic style of writing
which is perhaps not too out of place in what is clearly intended to be a work of
reference. To that end, over half the book consists of appendices which reproduce
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various conventions and
resolutions about the police and related subjects.
The main text is in three parts. The first deals with the general principles of
policing and emphasizes such oft-forgotten axioms as, "As a society becomes more
civilised, free and educated and informed at all levels, its expectations of the police
are raised". The second part deals with various practical issues like stopping,
searching and arresting and gives examples of the findings of the Commission in
respect of a range of actual cases. The third section deals with police training in a
rather generalized way and then provides specimen exam questions on human
rights. Anyone who needs to use these questions will be pleased to know that
answers are provided!
This isa book which no police library should be without; it presents a wealth of
material on human rights in a commendably objective way, covering the nghts of
the police - individual and collective - as well as their duties. Even if police
officers have no real interest in Europe, they certainly should be interested in how
democracies expect their police to "stand at the point of balance, on the one hand
securing human rights and, on the other, exercising their lawful powers
...
to
protect the people and their institutions." R.S.B.
C. M. V. CLARKSON AND H. M. KEATING:
Criminal
Law:Text and
Materials.
London: Sweet and Maxwell.
This is an academic work concerned with criminal jurisprudence and the main
principles and rules of the criminal law. The book succeeds as a textbook which
incorporates cases and materials in an interesting dialogue, relying on its readership
to form its own conclusion on some of the aspects of our judicial system. This is
not to say that reasoned argument or logical debate is neglected. The authors
build their analysis and argument in a detailed and careful way suggesting logical
answers to some of the most fundamental parts of the criminal law. Is for instance
either Christianity, morality or the cultural experience of society the means by
which certain behaviour should be classified as conduct offending the criminal law,
or is it a combination of these or some or all of them together with other precepts
which should be considered in this process? As enforcers of the law such questions
are intriguing to police officers, and there ismuch in this book to provoke thought
and stimulate debate.
The book consists of 582 pages comprising nine chapters concerned with crime
and punishment, the general principles of liability, the relationship of mens rea to
actus reus, general defences, causation, inchoate offences, parties to crime, non-
fatal offences against the person, homicide, concluding with a general theory of
criminal law.
The authors take the view that to understand the working of the criminal law
one must appreciate how society isolates the blameworthy and proceeds to
sentence. In reaching and appreciating this stage it is vital to comprehend the
concept of punishment and why certain conduct is criminalized. The authors
achieve their objective in an authoritative way and are able to realistically challenge
many of the underlying assumptions of the structure of the criminal law.
The analysis has its roots in the very origins of criminal law and is a book which
must be carefully read to fully comprehend its impact.
It
is not a book to be taken
lightly but is worth the energy expended in grappling with it.
362 October /985

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