Nature and Scope of Criminology

Criminology is, ordinarily, the science of crime and seeks to study the phenomenon of criminality in its entirety. Criminology as a branch of knowledge is concerned with those particular conducts of individual behaviour which are prohibited by society. It is therefore a societal study which seeks to discover the causes of criminality and suggest remedies to reduce crimes.

Criminology consists of two main branches – criminal biology, which investigates causes of criminality found in the mental and physical constitution of the deviant, ‘and criminal sociology which deals with enquiries into the effect of environment as a cause of criminality.

Criminology, penology and criminal law are inter-related fields. Penology deals with the custody, treatment, prevention and control of crimes. Criminal law seeks to implement policies envisaged by criminology and penology (the formulation of criminal policy essentially depends on crime causations and factors correlated therewith). The object of criminology is to study the sequence of law making, law-breaking and reaction to law breaking from the point of view of the efficiency of law as a method of control.

The science of criminology aims at taking up case to case study of different crimes and suggest measures to ‘reform’ the offenders. Liberalisation of punishment for affording greater opportunities for rehabilitation of offenders has been accepted as the ultimate object of penal justice.

The most significant aspect of criminology is its concern for crime and criminals. It presupposes the study of criminal with basic assumption that no one is born criminal. It treats reformation as the ultimate object of punishment while individualization (treatment accorded to each individual according to his personality) the method of it.

Criminology also seeks to create conditions conducive to social solidarity in as much as it tries to point out what behaviours are obnoxious and anti-social. The ultimate object is to render a crimeless society so far as possible with a view to achieving social harmony.

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