Thursday 29 May 2008


I kept getting people asking me to sign this: I couldn't find a new Violent Crimes Reduction Bill so decided the one it probably referred to is the Violent Crime Reduction Act of 2006. But none of that matched what the petition was saying, still I thought some of its provisions are about to be subject to a commencement order. At this point I asked the Internet for help.

The key bit appeared to be the talk of "historical re-enactment" and "sporting activity" which led a friend to point me at this statutory instrument from April. Which amends section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 in the same way that the VCRA '06 did. However as far as those dancers are concerned I can't see that it repeals the added defences that VCRA '06 added to CJA '88 which included "the purposes of theatrical performances and of rehearsals for such performances". From my reading various licensing acts and bizarrely the NI factories act I feel that an argument that a dance performance counts as "theatrical" has weight, but as it says in the title of the post IANAL[1].

I await the governments response, to see whether they make a similar point or suggest that the petitioners are right.

What was most interesting was that none of the people asking me to sign the petition could point me at the proposal they wanted me to sign up to oppose. Why do I think that is important, because I feel that petitions with fatuous, inaccurate or pointless messages should be kept out of the way, the government love them as they help camouflage the really important ones in the system. It could however, in this case, just have been difficult to find. These days of course pretty much everything is online, but when you come to these pieces of legislation that are added to over the years by order and amended by later bills, it can be difficult to work out exactly how the relevant legislation looks now. There are shiny databases out there that purport to collate all this information, but they all seem to be proprietary and I don't even seem to have enough status to get a free trial.

[1]If I had the time and the money I would love to at least do an OU law degree if not actually go the whole hog to lawyerdom. If I had even more time and money, going back to University to do it for real now I understand the value of learning could be a great experience.


Anonymous said...

Look here:

for copies of UK legislation, for free, from the Office of Public Sector Information.

Tony said...

It isn't so much the raw legislation, but how it layers together. I understand that the commercial offerings actually show you the acts with the amendments from later acts and orders in place and highlight which parts are currently in force and when they received their commencement.

Sam said...

Tony - thank you for pointing this out to me, I did attempt to find out some more information before posting to my blog and did come across some correspondance (copied to a forum) on this issue which seemed to suggest that the Govt has indeed overlooked this particular issue.

I totally agree with you that we should not detract from the more vital issues, but at the same time, I am quite prepared to support something like this (should it be correct) as I do feel that often legislation is brought in in such a hurry that the consequences are overlooked.

I would certainly like to know more and am more than happy to be corrected! The original information came to me from my Aunt who is a dancer (not necessarily sword dancing!) and seemed genuine.

s k graham said...

The new change is:

Which adds "curved blades over 50cm"

This currently impacts specific traditional dancers, such as belly dancers, who use curved middle-eastern scimitars as part of their dancing, more than say Highland dancers who use straight blades.

But see also: which mentions straight blades might be included in upcoming legislation.

The goal here is to get dancing props, carried or to be used by dancers, added to the specific list of exemptions. (Which, per the AKCT, isn't currently on the list.)

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Mason said...

I appreciate your honesty in saying 'IANAL.' It's crucial to clarify when sharing information online. How do you think this impacts the way we seek and share legal advice on the internet?

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