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Book reviews

13 December 10

Reviews of Computer Crime (ed Carr); Planning (Collar)

by Angus Marshall, Elaine Farquharson-Black

Computer Crime

Indira Carr (ed)
ISBN: 9780754628354
PRICE: £155

As a practitioner in the field of computer crime, I have a particular interest in the way the internet and its related technologies can be used and abused by criminals. Since my first involvement in investigating remote attacks on servers, I have also been acutely aware of the problems that can be caused by the differences between legal and regulatory systems across national boundaries.

With this in mind, I very much looked forward to reading more detailed considerations of the problems associated with formulating and enforcing laws applicable to activity affecting cyberspace.

As with other books in this series (International Library of Criminology, Criminal Justice & Penology, 2nd Series), this one consists of reprints of 16 previously published papers from a range of journals. Arranged into four sections, it deals with “The Parameters of Computer Crime”, “Harmonisation of Computer Crime Laws”, “Investigation, Jurisdiction and Sentencing Issues”, and “Cyber Security”, the second section being by far the largest.

The first of these sections addresses issues, through four papers, underlying the formulation of policy and legislation, with examples of success and failure drawn from different parts of the world. The second (six papers) deals with the issues inherent in making cross-jurisdictional definitions and law, particularly where local legislation already deals with the activities under consideration. The third section considers the problems of investigation, prosecution and sentencing across national boundaries; and the final three papers address the challenges inherent in attempting to prevent cybercrime and other unwanted activity.

Individually, the papers provide good coverage of the subject matter and have been collected into appropriate sections. Many of them are very detailed and can aid the reader in developing an understanding of the huge problems which arise in the development of international agreements, not least around the use of language. It is, however, left to the reader to consider the implications of each section. There is no linking narrative and neither introduction nor conclusion to each section.

The editor’s brief introduction to the book summarises each paper and gives some insight into the major topics, but does not really explain why each one has been chosen, nor how each contributes to a coherent argument or discussion of the topics at hand.

From the perspective of an academic researcher or someone experienced in the subject matter, this collection is a good starting point for further reading, as each paper contains copious references, but as a general reference work it lacks sufficient added material to help the reader contextualise the chosen papers and interpret them properly. This it not to say that it deserves to be avoided, but should be considered as a useful addition to a library of material on the subject of cybercrime.

Angus M Marshall, forensic scientist, author and researcher specialising in digital evidence and internet crime

Planning 3rd edition

Neil Collar
ISBN: 9780414017306
PRICE: £92

Sweeping changes have been made to the planning system by the Planning Etc (Scotland) Act 2006, which largely came into force in 2009. Such is the extent of the change that it is perhaps somewhat surprising that a new consolidating Planning Act was not published.

Furthermore, those practising in this area are also having to grapple with numerous pieces of secondary legislation which sets out the nuts and bolts of the new system. Hurrah, therefore, for the recent publication of the third edition of Planning.

Back in 1994, the first edition was written as an introduction to Scots planning law for those who were unfamiliar with the planning system. The third edition seeks to bring matters up to date.

Aimed at both planning professionals and members of the public, the book is remarkably easy to read. It clearly sets out the law as it now stands in a well-organised layout, and thus may be considered as the consolidated version of the Act.

However, as evidenced by the footnotes, there are very few examples of practical application of the law within the book. This may be a consequence of publishing before the delicacies of the new system have been unpicked by the courts.

Not all the changes are in force yet and the Scottish Government is currently reviewing matters one year on, so we may see further amendments which could quickly render parts of the book out of date.

For those reasons, the book does what it sets out to do, which is to provide a useful starting point to the new planning regime, but it may leave you needing to look elsewhere for answers to more complex queries.

Elaine Farquharson-Black, Paull & Williamsons LLP; Accredited Planning Law Specialist.

Suggestions for future books

The Book Review Editor is David J Dickson. Books for review should be sent c/o The Law Society of Scotland, 26 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh EH3 7YR

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