This book review was first posted by Andrew Keogh on his Crimeline website on 1 May 2015.
Publication of this updated text is timely given the rise in prosecutions for sexual offences and the heightened public scrutiny of the trial process. Practitioners in this field go to court ill equipped at their peril, and therefore need to ensure that they are up to date with all aspects of case preparation.
The text weighs in at over 800 pages and it is worth remarking that none of those pages are wasted on what are often irrelevant appendix materials. The format of the book is much as you would expect it to be, save that the authors have been very careful in Part 2 to distinguish between so called historic sex offences, those that span the commencement of the 2003 At, and current offences. This should hopefully stem the tide of appeals brought about by lawyers not paying careful attention to the drafting of indictments. The same format is adopted in Part 3 of the book, which deals with sentencing (nearly 200 pages), and there are very helpful sentencing tables in chapter 16. When a new text appears where there is already a very well established and respected leader in the field (Rook and Ward) I start by wondering whether the book really adds anything. The answer in this case is a clear yes, simply because you can quickly see that this is first and foremost a text written by practitioners for practitioners, yet at the same time with the depth of scholarly analysis that this area of law demands. To combine practicality and depth of detail is a very difficult balancing exercise for any author, but in this instance it has been executed brilliantly.
If I had one suggestion for a future edition it would be to bring a medical author on board to deal with injury and other issues – that is a particular strength of Rook and Ward and would complete the package. But wishing for more does not diminish the quality of what the authors have provided for the reader here.
I tend to think in this age of legal aid austerity that publishing in hardback format is a luxury that we can no longer afford, but with a modest price tag of £95 for a book of this quality that complaint falls away. You should buy it.