The Open UniversitySkip to content

The changing contours of the criminal law

Slapper, Gary (2007). The changing contours of the criminal law. Journal of Criminal Law, 71(2) pp. 95–98.

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (36kB)
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


The criminal law is sometimes accused of being applied disproportionately against the weaker and poorer elements of society. It is true that what seem to be large-scale offences are often unprosecuted. If a crime is big enough it can cease to be seen as a crime. Thus, in an old proverb, if you steal a chicken you become despised as a chicken thief whereas if you steal a Kingdom you become a King. The idea is also reflected in the observation of Honoré de Balzac that 'Laws are spider webs through which big flies pass and the little ones get caught' (La Maison Nucingen, 1838). The largest scale crimes can be committed by agencies of government. There is an argument for criminalising some sorts of organisational omission to act that result in death.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2007 Vathek Publishing Ltd
ISSN: 0022-0183
Keywords: criminal law; homicide; crime; omission; failure to act
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Law
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Item ID: 20960
Depositing User: Gary Slapper
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2010 11:51
Last Modified: 02 May 2018 13:10
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU