Criminology seeks to make people safer by educating them to make better decisions when addressing the problem of crime, says Dr Craig Patterson in a chat with Patricia Mascarenhas.
Not a day passes when inhuman crimes like gang rape, murder, honour killing are not reported in the newspapers. India has been facing a steep and unacceptable rise in the criminal cases especially against women that has caused great national distress. No doubt there are a number of well-meaning legislations for protection of the citizens but apart from knowing the law, there is also a need to study the root cause of the crimes happening all around.
However, the causes of crime are manifold and there isn’t any general theory of criminal behaviour. “Offending behaviour is influenced by a range of social, biological and psychological factors and offender’s motivation differs across crime type,” says Dr. Craig Patterson, principle lecturer, law and criminology, Sheffield Hallam University, UK.
Criminology includes the scientific study of different types of crime, criminals, causes behind the crime, occurrence or incidence of crime in various parts, the consequences of the crime as well as society`s response, different rules and punishment and preventive strategies for crime.
“It draws on disciplines such as law, history, sociology, politics and psychology in an attempt to understand why offenders offend and what criminal justice agencies can do to counteract this,” says Patterson.
Criminal justice systems work best when agencies communicate well and share information. There are lots of simple things that can be done to make environments safer so it is not all about criminal justice but a greater awareness of security means that individuals, local administrations and businesses can help bring down the crime rate. “Reducing crime requires people who understand offenders and their motivations to influence developments in policy and practice within criminal justice and beyond,” says Patterson.
When questions are raised about why certain crimes are increasing it is important to have a range of options to address the problem. “Understanding the offence, the victim and the offender provides a platform for the development of an informed response that criminal justice agencies can have confidence in,” says Patterson further adding that more and more criminal justice professionals are being asked for a degree level education to develop their careers. “As a consequence of this, criminology degrees are offering placements, volunteer work and internships in criminal justice agencies so that students graduate with academic and practical experience that puts them at the front of the job market,” he adds.
With crimes are increasing by the day, criminology has become more a necessity to stop and prevent it. One mechanism to encourage policy influence is to link academic departments to areas of practice and encourage a two-way information flow. “The long term approach of educating students in criminology means that there is a natural diffusion effect within criminal justice agencies that helps tackle and reduce the crime rate,” says Patterson.