Describe the Nature/Scope of Criminology

Criminology literally means the study of crime although it lengthens to a lot more. Studying criminology is more than just learning about what crime is, but also an elaboration on crime from different angles. Everyone that studies the subject has a different perspective of the definition of criminology and crime, hence the reason for such variation in the job sector once graduated. According to Coleman and Norris (2000), criminology is the analysis of the nature of crime, the offenders of crime, the causes of crime, the formulation of criminal laws and law enforcement, and the ways that crime can be controlled.

White and Haines (2004) state that criminology focuses on three main areas of study: the sociology of law, theories of crime causation and the study of social responses to crime. Discussed further are justifications of why criminology should be granted as an academic discipline at university. Crime covers hundreds of different offences; from shop robberies to homicides to terrorist attacks, and triggers many different interpreted meanings. Criminology is relevant everyday in the society that we live in as crime is not planned, nor predicted, and occurs frequently.

Newspapers are globally filled with articles about crimes of all sorts of causes and fatalities that require investigation. Scholarly journals and studies are frequently released; expressing keys ideas of criminology that help portray an understanding of criminology at an academic level. Having specialised knowledge in crime is critical in society to ensure that crime is dealt with in the right way in order to prevent further convictions happening. To gain a degree in criminology, a Bachelor of Arts is often studied, majoring in criminology.

Being not so specific, there are core papers that need to be completed in order to pass the course. These core papers open up the job opportunities in which you are entitled to work in. Common work areas that graduated criminologists are employed in are police officers, policy analysts, corporate/government lawyers and probation officers (Criminologist- Job outlook, 2009). Criminology focuses on the study of a number of different ideas and theories. The course is derived from ideas from other academic majors: mainly sociology, psychology, psychiatry, law, history and anthropology (Coleman & Norris, 2000).

When putting various ideas of these majors together, criminology academically insights to around fifteen different unit theories to investigate crime and the criminals involved. “Theory is not just a popular belief, opinion, or value-driven explanation. Instead…it is a product of the scientific approach” (Williams & McShane, 2010, p. 1). Three of the mainly studied theories are classical, positivist, and the individual trait theory (Williams & McShane, 2010). Classical theory suggests that people commit crimes when they believe that the benefits outweigh the costs.

Positivist theory suggests that crime is generated by internal and external factors of a person’s biological factors. Individual trait theory suggests that the biggest factor between criminals and non-criminals is biological and psychological traits (Williams & McShane, 2010). In the last 25 years in New Zealand, crime has changed significantly. An investigation was done by Brown and Young (2000) to address some of the major influencing factors that have caused crime rates to be at the rate which they exist and the possibilities to control and reduce these rates for the benefit of society.

Statistics New Zealand (2010) crime rates show the fluctuation in crime. These statistics represent that the medias expose of crime makes it out to be rapidly increasing. However, having a deeper knowledge of crime and the prevention of crime allows for the understanding that crime is not increasing rapidly. It could be debated that crime rates have shown plateau. In 1992, the national rate was 1,320 per 10,000 people, almost triple of the crime rate in 1970 (Crime in New Zealand: 1994 to 2000, 2001). More recent year statistics demonstrate a gradual decrease.

In 2009, the crime rate shows 1,045 per 10,000 people (Statistics New Zealand, 2010). These statistics show that the crime rate has shown plateau over the last 20 years, although as Brown and Young (2000) state that in this short time, crime has changed significantly in a number of different ways. This shows for the importance criminology being studied at an academic level of study. In an industry in which society is heavily involved and the safety of the world around us, including animals and the environment, it is critical to have qualified professionals that know what ways crime should be dealt with, the prevention and reasons of crime.