Journey to the Development of Criminology


The project’s goal is to improve our understanding of crime and its social ramifications by concentrating on the advancement of criminology. The research combines established criminological ideas with cutting-edge disciplines including neurology, technology, and sociology through an interdisciplinary method. The project aims to investigate the dynamic nature of criminal behavior in order to discover new elements that contribute to criminality and to create creative approaches for crime prevention and intervention. It also highlights how crucial international cooperation and information exchange are to addressing the problems facing criminology today. The ultimate objective of the project is to support the development of criminology as an all-encompassing and flexible discipline that can handle the complexity of contemporary society and promote more successful approaches to criminal justice and crime prevention.[1]


The term criminology is formed with two Greek words ‘Krino’ meaning accusation and ‘Logos’ meaning study or reason. Criminology means studying the behavior of criminals and the crime. The term criminology not only includes the aspects of criminal law but also the aspects of sociology, psychology, anthropology and statics. It is in general a non-legal aspect of crime. One can only understand the reason behind a particular crime when the behavior and mind of the criminals are studied. The study of crime and criminals helps the country understand where the law in the society is lacking. The legislative while passing a law keeps in mind the behavior of the people in the society and with the changing mindset of people, we can witness changes brought in the existing laws. In criminology the relation between the crime and the society is understood and studied.

Cesare Lombroso gave the theory on classification of criminals, where he classified criminals as born criminals, occasional criminals, criminals by passions and criminal epileptics.

According to Edwin Sutherland who is considered as one of the founding fathers of criminology said that the “study of social, cultural and environmental factors that influence criminal behavior are equally important as that of study of behavior of criminals”.[2]

Travis Hirschi an influential criminologist defined criminology as “study of causes of criminal behavior and society’s reaction to the same”.

History of Criminology

The criminology for the first time was coined in 1885 by an Italian Law Professor Raffaele Garofalo as criminologia in Italian which means studying the crime. Then in 1887 the French Anthropologist Paul Topinard used the term criminology. Around 1940 the American School of criminology was formed and in 1950 first school of criminology was started. The mid-20th Century talks about modern criminology which involves studying the crime with the help of sociological, psychological and economic conditions. Cesare Lambos is the father of modern criminology. After 21st Century marks the time of new criminology where the criminologists study the causes behind the crime.

Schools of Criminology

There are mainly four schools of criminology

  1. Pre- classical school: This school of thought was dominant during 17th Century in Europe. It is also known as Demonological School. The major scholar of this school of criminology was Saint Thomas Aquinas. The theory was dominant due to the dominance of church and religion during that period. The scholars of this school thought that a person commits a crime due to some external force and the same is beyond his/her control of understanding. It was believed that the punishment to the offender will be given by God and the God will serve the justice. People practiced stone pelting and believed that if no harm is caused to the person, then that means he is innocent and if harm caused then he was considered guilty.
  2. Classical school: The major scholars of this school are Cesare Beccaria, Jeremy Bentham and Chester Barnard. The classical school of criminology emerged during the 18th This school of criminology believes that humans are free to make their own choices based on their interests and same can be stop by setting the fear of punishment among the people.[3]
  3. Positivist school: The major scholars of this school are Paul Topinard and Raffaele Garofalo This school of criminology emerged in 19th The scholars of this school opposed the theory of classical school and said that humans always are not rational and they can commit a crime due to the external factors as well like psychological factor, biological factor, and social factor.
  4. Chicago school: The major scholars of this school are Clifford Shaw and Henry D. Mckay. This school of criminology emerged in the early 20th This school studies criminal behavior from the sociological perspective and they particularly study crime with defined spatial distribution.


Criminology in India, Canada, USA and UK


The population in India is increasingly rapidly, and with the same we can witness that the crime rate is also increasing in the country. As per the Crime Index 2023, India stands at 77th position in the world’s most criminal countries. As per NRCB report 2021, the states with highest crime rate in India includes Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and many more and as per the Women, Peace and Security Index 2021 Nagaland has the least number of crimes. However, the study of criminology in India is at a very beginning stage. Many institutions do not offer the study of criminology course because of which many people are not even aware about the course. However, in 1954 a center for criminology was established and it is one of the oldest centers in India. Then in 1970 Indian Society of criminology was set up to advanced the study of criminology and related areas. In 2022, 43rd All India Conference of Indian Society of Criminology was held in West Bengal. Still, after various conferences being held and department being set up to look at the crimes, we can witness that crime against women and organized crime is rapidly increasing and to curb this we need to enhance the area of criminology.


In Canada, criminology started in 20th Century. In 1960, Université De Montréal was established as the first school of criminology in Canada by Denis Szabo. Most of the criminology research are done in universities where research has evolved. There are consensus and conflict perspectives of Canadian Criminologists. The “Consensus” perspective criminologists says that the rules made in a country are equal to all and everyone shares them, and according to them the people who violates the rules needs more attention. The “Conflict” perspective criminologists look at how social injustice, power struggles, and structural tensions in society contribute to crime and deviance. Various organization are set up in Canada where the criminologist participates to promote social sciences and law. The development of criminology in Canada has been impacted by social and political changes. Critical criminology and social justice have received more attention within the discipline as a result of growing attention to issues like indigenous rights, racial imbalances in the criminal justice system, and the connection between social injustice and crime. The distinctive social, cultural, and legal circumstances of Canada have influenced the development of criminology there. It keeps changing to meet new concerns, improve evidence-based policies, and support an equitable and efficient criminal justice system.


Criminology in USA developed in late 19th Century and it has significantly evolved over the time. Criminology was influenced highly by the positive school of criminology. The study of criminal conduct and its causes has benefited from the contributions of notable individuals like Cesare Lombroso and Emile Durkheim. The thesis of the “born criminal” developed by Lombroso and Durkheim’s sociological method served as the cornerstone for criminology research in this nation. The establishment of the Chicago School of Criminology in the early 20th century was one of the significant turning points in the growth of criminology in the USA. Urban crime patterns and delinquency were the subject of ground-breaking studies by academics like Clifford Shaw, Ernest Burgess, and Robert Park. Their work paved the path for the sociological perspective in criminology by emphasizing the social and ecological aspects that affect criminal conduct. The development of crime control strategies and the administration of justice have both been significantly influenced by criminology in the United States. For instance, a concentration on punitive tactics and mass incarceration resulted from the “war on drugs” emergence in the 1980s and 1990s. However, there has been a trend in recent years toward evidence-based procedures and a bigger focus on recovery, community-based initiatives, and restorative justice strategies.


In early 20th century, the classical school of criminology, which placed a strong emphasis on reason and deterrent in combating crime, had an impact on criminology in the UK. The investigation of criminal behavior, the study of criminal causes, and the creation of crime prevention tactics were the main areas of concentration. The Institute of Criminology was founded at the University of Cambridge by Sir Leon Radzinowicz, in 1959, which became a leading institution for criminology research and education. Criminal justice changes and policies in the UK were greatly influenced by criminology. Criminologists’ research impacted the creation of programs including diversionary supervision, restorative justice, and community policing. The Home Office Research Unit’s founding in 1971 made it even easier to make decisions on public policy based on facts. In order to serve as a professional organization for criminologists in the UK, the British Society of Criminology (BSC) was established in 1957. The BSC was essential in fostering criminology scholarship, investigation, and cooperation. Universities all around the nation have developed criminology programs over time, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in the subject. The focus on theoretical viewpoints in criminology in the UK has given way to an applied and multidisciplinary approach. The field of study continues to contribute to our understanding of crime, the creation of efficient crime prevention techniques, and the advancement of criminal justice systems.


Criminology is multifaceted field that plays an important role in understanding and preventing crime in a society. In this article we have delved into the major school of criminology and how criminology has developed over the years. The study of criminology has developed into a dynamic and varied field that constantly adapts to new problems and advancements. Our understanding of crime has improved. It has also cleared the way for more potent methods to deal with criminal conduct and advance justice. The goal of society is to prevent crime, advance justice, and build safer communities for everybody. This goal can be achieved through comprehending the reasons of criminal behavior and putting evidence-based measures into practice. To address new difficulties and create efficient policies and practices in the area of crime and criminal justice, criminology must continue to engage in research, collaboration, and innovation.

The course of Criminology is offered in various countries, but still many people are not aware about the course and the work done by the criminologists. There is need to look at the problems and enhance the requirement of criminologists in a particular country. To address the underlying reasons of criminal behaviour and lower the frequency of crimes, governments should engage in crime prevention programs. These initiatives could be community-based projects, public awareness campaigns, social welfare programs, or assistance for vulnerable groups. The Government should also provide funds to the criminology researchers as their research helps in formulation of effective crime prevention strategies, and decision making within the criminal justice system. Government should also take steps to provide support services to victims like counselling, legal assistance, healthcare, etc.

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Written by- Hargunn Kaur Makhija

[1] 5th Year, B.A.LL.B (Hons.), Maharashtra National Law University, Aurangabad

[2] Edwin Sutherland – “Principles of Criminology” (1939)

[3] Cesare Beccaria – “On Crimes and Punishments” (1764)

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