Much of the literature on state crime has concentrated on breaches of the criminal law:
the idea of crime as a public crime does at least serve to focus our attention on a central issue about criminalization … criminal convictions condemn the convicted person. Criminal punishments are not merely neutral techniques of prevention or deterrents; they express condemnation or censure … to put it crudely and over-simply, civil law and non-criminal modes of regulation are primarily concerned with the prevention of harm and with compensation, as well as with spreading the costs of such harms and prevention, whereas criminal law is concerned with the definition and condemnation of wrongs. (Duff and Green 2005: 9)
In the UK context, criminal law not only reflects the wishes or needs of society but also ‘must aim to lay down clear “rules of conduct” for them that will tell them precisely what they must or must not do, on pain of punishment if they break the rules … It aims not merely to make clear what conduct is prohibited or permitted, but to declare to citizens what count as public wrongs that require a public condemnatory response’ (Duff and Green 2005: 10, 13; see also Robinson 1997).