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Professor calls for reforms in law on preparatory crime

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

A profesor of Criminal Law at the Queen Mary University of London, Prof. William Wilson, has challenged legal professionals in the country to take a second look at the law on preparatory crime.

He explained that the general nature of the law made it difficult for one to distinguish what was and what was not preparatory crime and the legal punishments available to those found guilty.

Preparatory crime is when a person undertakes an act towards committing an offence but fails to commit the actual offence for some reason.

Prof. Wilson said there was the need to rethink the law’s approach with regard to punishing people for attempting to commit an offence and the actual offence itself.

He added that there was the need to have a law that specifies punishments to be meted out to people who attempted to commit crimes but fail to do so.


Prof. Wilson made the remarks at a public lecture on preparatory law organised by the University of London’s International Programme in Accra.

The lecture was on the theme, “Preparation for crime: Some thoughts on a just and effective scheme of liability”.

Prof. Wilson also noted in his lecture that the Criminal Attempts Act, 1981, which stipulates that a person does an act which is more than merely preparatory to the commission of the offence, was guilty of attempting to commit an offence.

He criticised the act, explaining that it did not define what an attempt was, but rather only what it was not.

He, thus, proposed some reforms that he said would be useful in order to distinguish the punishment for attempting to commit an offence and the actual offence itself.

He mentioned the need to have a precise definition for a criminal attempt to commit crime and have a statutory list of illustrations describing what counted and what did not count as some of the reforms that would help make the law clearer.

A Supreme Court judge, Justice Joseph Akamba, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said Prof. Wilson’s request for reforms in the law were in the right direction, adding that it would help broaden the area of criminal justice delivery.

He said the country’s criminal code had not seen any reform to the code.

He mentioned a situation where punishment for attempting to commit an offence was the same as the complete offence itself as areas that needed attention.

Story: Prince Amadu Mohammed