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Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 was an act of parliament brought into law by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It introduced a number of changes to the existing law, most notably in the restriction and reduction of existing rights and in greater penalties for certain anti-social behaviours. The Bill was introduced by Michael Howard, John Major’s home secretary.


Changes which had the greatest attention included: Sections 34-39 which substantially changed the right to silence of the accused, allowing for inferences from accused’s silence. Sections 54-59, which gave the police greater rights to take and retain intimate body samples. Section 60 which increased police powers of unsupervised stop an search.

The whole of Part V which covered collective trespass and nuisance on land and included sections against raves (63-67, with the famous “repetitive beats” definition and further sections against disruptive trespass, squatters, and unauthorised campers – most significantly the criminalisation of previously civil offences.

Part VII handled ‘Obscenity and Pornography’, banning imitation child pornography, harshening provisions dealing with the censorship and age restriction of videos, and also increasing the penalty on obscene phone calls.

The act also reduced the age at which homosexual acts are lawful from 21 to 18, and altered the definition of rape to include anal rape on men.


In response to the introduction of the Act, electronic music group Autechre released the Anti EP, which satired the Act’s definition of music by including a track which was advertised as containing no repetitive beats, making it suitable for playing at raves.


  • The Act specifically defines “music” to include “sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.”

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