Definitions of Criminology

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Criminology is a combination of two Latin words:
Crimen – crime
Logus or logy – science

It is the science or study of crime. It is concerned with the conduct of individuals which is prohibited by society and law. It is a socio-legal study which seeks to discover the causes of criminality and suggests appropriate remedies.


Edwin Sutherland
Criminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon. It includes within its scope the processes of making laws, breaking laws and reacting towards the breaking of law. (From the above definition it is apparent that criminology is a combination of how the society defines and deals with crime within a social and legal context).

Donald Taft
Criminology may be divided into two branches:
1. general
2. specific

Criminology in a general sense is the study of crime and criminals. In a specific sense it seeks to study criminal behavior its goal being to reform the criminal behavior or conduct of the individual which society condemns.

Criminology is the scientific study of crime as a social phenomenon or of criminals and their behaviors and family conditions.
Criminology can thus be said to be and academic discipline that employs scientific methodology to study crime, its major forms, its reasons for existence or causation and how the criminal justice system can respond to crime. In its narrower sense, criminology looks at criminal behavior of individuals in society and how they come to be perceived as such i.e. Their social, cultural and economic background. In a wider sense, it looks at how the criminal is dealt with e.g. how he is punished and therefore includes penology.

Criminology as a subject therefore deals with:
• criminal acts;
• the criminal;
• it indirectly deals with the victim of the crime;
• crime causation and theory;
• crime prevention and detection of potential offenders;
• The efficacy of the criminal justice system.
Criminology borrows heavily from other sciences including biology (genetical make up of a criminal) psychology) (thinking process of a criminal mind), psychiatry (mental stability and inclination of a criminal), philosophy, general medicine etc.