Criminal law

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on criminal law. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

15.01.2016Pre-charge bail
The Government plans to reform pre-charge bail, often referred to as 'police bail', to reduce both the number of people subject to it and its average duration. This briefing sets out the extent of the powers, the controversy surrounding their use, the police response and the Government's proposals.
15.01.2016The Psychoactive Substances Bill 2015-16: Report on Committee Stage
This briefing paper is produced prior to the Report Stage of the Psychoactive Substances Bill 2015-16.
08.01.2016Fatal shootings by the police in England and Wales
Some notorious cases have highlighted concerns about whether police in England and Wales 'shoot to kill' and whether the systems that might hold the police to account are effective.
07.01.2016Criminal Cases Review Commission
The CCRC was created to prevent a repeat of the notorious miscarriages of justice of the 1970s and 1980s.This Commons briefing paper provides an overview of the commission's approach to applications, its history and of the debate as to whether it is fit for purpose.
11.12.2015Changes to criminal legal aid
The attempts of the Ministry of Justice to transform the provision of legal aid in England and Wales has attracted criticism, protests and litigation which has delayed the Legal Aid Agency and solicitors firms from entering into a much more limited number of contracts for Duty Provider Work.
11.12.2015Armed Forces Bill 2015-16
The five-yearly Armed Forces Bill provides the legal basis for the UK's armed forces and its system of military law.
07.12.2015Serious driving offences
This paper provides a general overview of charging and sentencing policy and successive governments' approaches to serious driving offences, including careless and dangerous driving, and causing serious injury or death thereby.
01.12.2015Riot (Compensation) Bill
The riots in London and other cities in 2011 raised serious issues about insurance liability and compensation. This Bill is the response.
16.11.2015Social Indicators 2015
This Research Paper summarises a wide range of social statistics. Subjects covered include agriculture, crime, defence, education, elections, environment and energy, health, housing, local government, population and migration, social security and transport.
12.11.2015Mandatory life sentences for murder
Murder carries a mandatory life sentence. This can mean that the offender will spend the rest of his natural life in prison, although more commonly the offender will spend a "minimum term" in custody before being released on licence. This briefing from the Commons Library describes the legal framework within which minimum terms are set and the circumstances in which a "whole life" minimum term may be imposed.

Lords Library Notes

08.01.2016Identity Cards in the UK
This Lords Library briefing provides background information ahead of the debate in the House of Lords scheduled for 14 January 2016 on the "potential use of identity documentation in dealing with the challenges of assuring the identity of individuals". It does this through a short chronology of the history of ID cards in the UK over the last century. It then provides more information about two key pieces of legislation: the Identity Cards Act 2006 and the Identity Documentation Act 2010.
25.06.2014Criminal Justice and Courts Bill (HL Bill 30 of 2014-15)
The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill contains a range of proposals across four areas: criminal justice; young offenders; courts and tribunals; and judicial review. This Library Note summarises the key debates that took place on the Bill at report stage and third reading in the House of Commons, highlighting amendments made to the Bill, and refers to some of the other issues raised by MPs.
25.10.2013Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill (HL Bill 52 of 2013-14)
Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill (HL Bill 52 of 2013-14)
15.11.2011Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (HL Bill 109 of 2010-12)
This Library Note provides background information in advance of the second reading in the House of Lords of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.
15.03.2007Fraud (Trials without a Jury) Bill. LLN 2007/002
02.02.2007Serious Crime Bill (HL Bill 27, 2006-07). LLN 2007/001
Serious Crime Bill. House of Lords Library Note 2007/001


16.12.2015Policing Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse refers to a range of behaviours - psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional - that are directed towards partners, ex-partners or family members. This POSTnote examines the prevalence and nature of domestic abuse and the policing response. It examines how the policing response could be informed by research about the effectiveness of current and alternative approaches, and the possible benefits for victims, their families and offenders.
22.10.2015Unintentional Bias in Court
When asked to interpret information and draw conclusions, people are prone to a number of well understood, unintentional errors in reasoning called cognitive biases. This POSTnote examines how cognitive biases affect reasoning and decision-making, and outlines strategies to minimise their influence in court.
30.09.2015Forensic Language Analysis
This note examines forensic language analysis, the scientific validity of procedures and their applications, and explores the issues surrounding their use.
24.09.2015Trends in Crime and Criminal Justice
This POSTnote describes crime patterns, and highlights issues with crime measurement and data. It also identifies key developments in the criminal justice system.
09.03.2015The darknet and online anonymity
A very small proportion of websites use sophisticated anonymity systems, which allow their operators to conceal their identity if they wish to. This part of the web is commonly referred to as the darknet. The darknet helps citizens to protect their security and privacy and to circumvent censorship. It also facilitate organised crime, such as the billion dollar drug market known as Silk Road. This POSTnote discusses the challenge of preventing such crimes without compromising the other uses of anonymity technologies.

Select Committee Reports

26.01.2010Appointment of HM CPS Chief Inspector.
Justice Select Committee report [Commons]
05.05.2009Procedural rights in EU criminal proceedings.
European Union Select Committee (HL) report [Lords]
31.03.2009Legislative scrutiny: Policing and Crime Bill.
Human Rights Joint Select Committee report [Commons and Lords]

Early Day Motions

That this House considers current UK law which provides sleepwalking as a defence for rape or murder to be grossly unreasonable following recent cases, including a not guilty verdict ...
18.11.2009CRIMINAL LAW (S.I., 2009, NO. 2773)
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (Conditional Cautions: Financial Penalties) Order 2009 (S.I., 2009, No. 2773), dated 15 ...
18.11.2009CRIMINAL LAW (S.I., 2009, No. 2720)
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Costs in Criminal Cases (General) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 (S.I., 2009, No. 2720), dated 8 October 2009, a copy ...
15.10.2009CRIMINAL LAW (S.I., 2009, No. 2720)
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Costs in Criminal Cases (General) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 (S.I., 2009, No. 2720), dated 8 October 2009, a copy ...
20.07.2009MAGISTRATES' COURTS (S.I., 2009, No. 1496)
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Magistrates' Courts Fees (Amendment) Order 2009, (S.I., 2009, No. 1496), dated 10 June 2009, a copy of which was ...


  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses