Information about Scope of Criminology
The interests of criminologists include the study of nature of crime and criminals, origins of criminal law, etiology of crime, social reactions to crime, and the functioning of law-enforcement agencies and penal institutions.
It can be said that broadly criminology directs its enquiries along three lines: first, it investigates the nature of criminal law and its administration and conditions under which it develops; second, it analyses the causation of crime and the personality of criminals; and third, it studies the control of crime and the rehabilitation of offenders.
Thus, criminology includes within its scope the activities of legislative bodies, law-enforcement agencies (police), judicial institutions (courts), correctional institutions (prisons and reformatories) and educational, private and public social agencies.
Walter Reckless (The Crime Problem, 1955: 6-7) has also talked of the territory or the contents that criminology should cover. He suggests the following boundaries to be covered by criminology:
(1) It should study how crime is reported to official sources and acted upon officially.
(2) It should study the development of and changes in criminal laws as they relate to social, economic, and political systems and to the social values in various societies.
(3) It should study the characteristics of criminals, like sex, class, marital condition, occupation, employment, psychological characteristics, physique, pathological conditions of mind and body etc.; and compare these with those of non-criminals. The effort here is to discover what kinds of people do and do not get involved in crime.
(4) It should study the area and regional variation in the amount of crime as well as variation in specific patterns of crime.
(5) It should attempt to shed light on the causative factors of crime and should formulate causal theories.
(6) It should study the special manifestations of crime that are quite different from ordinary crime, like organised crime, white-collar j crime, etc.
(7) It should study the relation of closely affiliated problems to crime, especially alcoholism, drug abuse, prostitution, gambling and vagrancy. In many societies, most or some of these problems may or may not be defined as crimes but these problems have a very close connection with crime.
(8) It should study the effectiveness of law enforcement and of special laws in the control of crime.
(9) It should study the effectiveness of the measures to treat offenders, like imprisonment, probation, parole, institutional treatment and aftercare.
(10) It should study various efforts and experiments to prevent crime and delinquency.
In studying the field of criminology, it should, however, be remembered that this discipline is composed of knowledge drawn from such fields as sociology, law, medicine, public administration, social work, religion, and education.
The interest of sociologists has primarily been in the science of criminal behaviour, while scholars of law are more concerned with criminal law. Attempts have been made recently by scholars interested in criminal behaviour and criminal law to conduct interdisciplinary research or integrate the findings of various disciplines on criminality.