Since the eighteenth edition of this book appeared the consequences of the apathy and myopia of the British legislators during the past three decades have become distressingly manifest. At common law, as our ancient authorities state, gaming houses were classed as a public nuisance since they not only incited to idleness and avarice people whose time should otherwise be employed for the good of themselves and of the community, but also formed a focus for the congregation of evildisposed persons. Even through the eighteenth century, an era traditionally reputed to be one of licence and immorality, several statutes were enacted to check the corrosive mischief of unrestricted gambling. But by 1934 the wind had changed and the gates have been blown open in enactments of the past six years. The evil has spread like a virus; betting shops have proliferated in our cities and so many other nets have been spread to entrap people by the lure of fortuitous enrichment that catering for gamblers had been publicly stated to be now the largest industry in the country a vested interest indeed of great financial strength which is not likely to be scrupulous in methods of protecting itself against limitation of its activities. Moreover the situation thus created offers a most favourable ground for the growth of social cankers such as compulsive gambling, protection recketeering and criminal recidivism. To attempt to raise revenue for the purposes of the Welfare State by Taxation of gambling, promoted as now for private gain, would result in entrenching this social evil, and prove as foolish and harmful as it would be to license the indiscriminate sale of narcotic drugs.
During this same period some decided cases have shown that in order to secure the conviction of the accused person some of those concerned with the administration of justice have continued the modern tendency to disregard or evade principles of criminal law and evidence, the real purpose of which is to safeguard the freedom of those citizens who are, although suspected, innocent of any offence.
The reports of the Criminal Law Revision Committee were not all available until after the text of this edition had passed into the printer`s hands; but since the committee`s suggestions for changes in the law have yet to come before Parliament for approval or modification there will doubtless be a considerable time during which some knowledge of the law as it now stands will have to be the task which confronts the student.