Criminal Law Reform Now Network

Launched in 2017, the mission of the Criminal Law Reform Now Network (CLRN Network) is to facilitate collaboration between academics and other legal experts to gather and disseminate comprehensible proposals for criminal law reform to the wider community. We aim to include members of the public and mainstream media as well as legal professionals, police, policymakers and politicians. Our proposals might require legislation but we will not restrict ourselves to such projects. Reforms which public bodies such as the Home Office, Police or CPS could bring about by internal policies may interest us, as are reforms which require the support of some of the judiciary, bearing in mind the proper judicial constraints on law making. We will be ready to consult with and make suggestions to anyone who has the power to bring about reform.



03 Nov 17


Computer Misuse Act Project - Framework Document


Our new Framework Document sets out a proposed structure for our review of the Computer Misuse Act, modelled from the symposium in September. Work is currently ongoing to confirm author teams for each chapter, as well as reviewers.  


12 Sep 17


Computer Misuse Act Project Update


Thank you to everyone who contributed to our scoping symposium yesterday; it was an enjoyable and productive event. In the coming weeks the CLRNN Committee will be working to form a Project Team to move into the research and report writing stage (see Project Process). If you would like to form part of this team, or for further information, please contact or  


04 Aug 17


Symposium - Reviewing the Computer Misuse Act 1990


The Criminal Law Reform Now Network one-day symposium on reform to the Computer Misuse Act 1990 will take place at Sussex University on 11 September 2017, starting at 10am and finishing by 4pm. Registration is free, but places are limited - Register Now. We hope shortly afterwards to assemble a writing team for the project, with a view to completion in 2018.


We have chosen the subject of computer misuse as our first project because, notwithstanding being twice amended, there are particular reasons to think that the Act has still not kept up to date with advances in technology (eg, whether smart phones should be regarded as “computers”, whether denial of service attacks fall under any of the provisions of the Act). At the same time, in some respects, it remains unsatisfactorily wide (the term “unauthorised access” is capable of very wide interpretation and common industrial practices such as time-locking may be technically illegal) and the absence of a public interest defence is seemingly inconsistent with the recent inclusion of such provision in relation to data protection laws.


Our first speaker, Professor Ian Walden, will give an outline of the 1990 Act, the subsequent amendments that proved necessary and of proposals that have not been implemented. Professor Peter Sommer will then speak of the concept of “authorisation” under the Act, followed by Naomi Colvin on the case for including a public interest defence. Lyndon Harris will address the difficulties in sentencing the offence in the absence of any sentencing guidelines, and Dr Audrey Guinchard will offer comparative perspectives on the issues so far under discussion. Finally Dr Nicola Searle will discuss research methodology in cyber- crime, concerning techniques for accessing trade secrets.


Other specialists in the field, offering both legal and non-legal perspectives will also be present. We will conclude the event with a group discussion, including an outline of further issues to investigate and the ways in which reforms might most likely be achieved, to be chaired by CLRNN committee member and project Lead, Simon McKay.