Lawiki for and by law students - find us on Facebook if you want to help us edit this Law Wiki.
Not professional advice - LAWIKI cannot guarantee the validity of any information
There are few 'crimes of omission' in English law. On the whole, failing to prevent harm is not a crime unless there is a legal duty of care. I would not be guilty of any specific offence if I stood by and watched a stranger jump off a cliff, however easy it would be for me to prevent the harm. Cases where an omission may be an offence include:
- wilful refusal to comply with a statutory obligation. An example might be refusing to supply a breath specimen for an alcohol test when the law requires that one does so;
- not carrying out a duty which is a contractual obligation;
- failing to exercise a duty of care (e.g., parents for their children), including cases where duty of care has been assumed (see: Assumed duty of care);
- where the omission omits to correct a harmful situation caused by the defendent (see: R v miller (1983)).