The main offences are set out in the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (OAPA). This Act merely tidied up the then existing law by putting all of the offences into one Act. It did not try to create a coherent set of offences, and as a result, there have been many problems in the law. There have been many proposals for reform. In 1980, the Criminal Law Revision Committee made recommendations in its 14th Report, Offences Against the Person, Cmnd 7844 (1980). The Law Commission adopted these ideas, first in its Draft Criminal Code (1989) and then in 1993 in its report Legislating the Criminal Code: Offences against the Person and General Principles. In February 1998 the Home Office issued a Consultation Document, Violence: Reforming the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. This pointed out that the 1861 Act ‘was itself not a coherent statement of the law but a consolidation of much older law. It is therefore not surprising that the law has been widely criticised as archaic and unclear and that it is now in urgent need of reform.’ The consultation document included a draft Bill (see section 11.5). Despite all of this, Parliament, as yet, has not reformed the law. The main offences are based on whether the victim was injured; if there were injuries, their level of seriousness; and the intention of the defendant. The main offences, in ascending order of seriousness, are:
battery – contrary to s 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988; assault occasioning actual bodily harm – contrary to s 47 OAPA; malicious wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm – contrary to s 20 OAPA; wounding or causing grievous bodily harm with intent – contrary to s 18 OAPA.