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Ashworth's Principles of Criminal Law

Ashworth's Principles of Criminal Law (10th edn)

Jeremy Horder
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date: 05 December 2023

p. 292. Criminal Law Historylocked

p. 292. Criminal Law Historylocked

  • Jeremy HorderJeremy HorderProfessor of Criminal Law, London School of Economics and Political Science


This chapter explores aspects of the criminal law’s history. The main focus is the influence of religious—and, especially, biblical—thought on the criminal law. This influence does something to explain the law’s harsh attitude to theft and homosexuality, as well as to murder. Examination of efforts to codify the law is also included. This exploration is central to the analysis of how the past has shaped the criminal law’s values. However, the development of the law has not been one of continuous moral improvement. Old injustices have been replaced by new ones. In that regard, threats to civil liberties are also discussed in the final section, focusing on bureaucratic regulation, terrorism, and free speech.

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