The Law Commission of England today published its report on Simplification of Criminal Law: Public Nuisance and Outraging Public Decency
It follows a consultation paper
published in 2010.
Public nuisance is a common law offence involving environmental danger or loss of amenity or offensive public behaviour.
The related common law offence of outraging public decency involves actions in public places that outrage generally accepted standards of decency, in the presence of at least two people.
At present public nuisance requires negligence on the part of the defendant, while outraging public decency does not require any mental fault at all.
The report recommends that both offences should be replaced by statutory offences. The new offences would be similar to the old, except that the fault element would be redefined:
- in public nuisance, it should be a requirement of the offence that the defendant intended to cause, or was reckless about causing, a nuisance to the public;
- in outraging public decency, it should be a requirement of the offence that the defendant knew that he or she was or might be in a public place and that the act or display was of such a nature as to cause outrage to ordinary people. There should be no requirement that two people were actually present.
Labels: criminal law, law commissions, UK