Criminology is the scientific study of crime and criminal behaviors. It includes the study of causes, correction, and prevention of crime from the viewpoints of diverse scientific disciplines of anthropology, biology, psychology, sociology, economics, and statistics. Criminology is a field of sociology that includes the subfields:

  • Penology refers to the study of prisons and prison systems.
  • Biocriminology is the study of the biological basis of criminal behavior.
  • Feminist criminology is defined as the study of women and crime.
  • Criminalistics is referred to as the study of crime detection.

History of Criminology

Criminology is an important field for the maintenance of a safe society in the living world. It is an inseparable part of the legal and criminal justice system. 

Criminology truly began in Europe between the late 1700s and the early 1800s. Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham were the pioneers of the classical theory of criminology, which states that, “Crimes are committed through free will. People know what they are doing and should be punished. Those consequences should be strong enough to deter other people from the crime and should be harsher than the criminal gain.” 

Raymond Saleilles, author of The Individualization of Punishment, and his teacher Gabriel Tarde were famous theorists of the neoclassical theory of criminology which states that people can be led by behavior, which can be irrational. It also suggests the world is imperfect and therefore there will always be mistakes.

Lombroso is credited with being the father of criminology and the founder of the positivist theory of criminology. This theory states that people are different, both intellectually and physically that all actions are pre-established in time and that free will is only an illusion.

Punishment within the positivist school of thought would not be determined by crime, but rather by a person. Also, correction, treatment, and rehabilitation are theoretically possible for all criminals and those that cannot be fixed should be killed.

In the 1920s, Robert E. Park and Ernest Burgess presented their Chicago school of thought through the University of Chicago. The thoughts were related to criminology to sociology and provided research on concentric zones or zones in transition where people tend to be more criminally active than others.

The Chicago school of thought determined that crimes tend to be taught by older criminals whom people may be associated with either personally or professionally. Henry McKay and Clifford Shaw worked on juvenile delinquents which led to the development of a new social ecology study.

Criminology in India

In India, Criminology is still in the growing and developing phase and is not a well-known field, therefore this discipline is working on a small scale. Although the crime rate in India is quite high, still the number of professional criminologists is not enough which is responsible for the long run of criminal cases in the courts. 

There is a lack of professional courses offered in criminology in India, which weakens this field here. The evolution of academic criminology in India began with the call of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1957 for the development of criminology in the newly developing countries as a part of expanding science and scientific research in the study of crime and criminal justice.

The symposium resolved that a systematic understanding of Criminology and Forensic Science was necessary for Law Enforcement Officers and that Universities should be encouraged to include these courses in their curriculum.

The University of Sagar or Dr. Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalaya, located in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, was the first university in India to establish an academic program in criminology in 1959. The Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science, Delhi came up in 1972 and since then has made significant headway in training and research in these two fields.

It became an independent department directly under the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1976. The Journal of Criminology and Criminalistics (ISSN 097 04345) is also published by the institute.

However, one of the oldest centers for criminology was set up in 1954 as the then erstwhile Department of Criminology and Correctional Administration (CCA) at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai for creating trained personnel in the field of correctional and criminal justice administration. 

The Indian Society of Criminology was established in the year 1970 to advance the study and application of criminology and allied sciences for the welfare of society and for facilitating cooperation with different stakeholders interested in the prevention and control of crime.

Training in criminology has been given to various criminal justice professionals in India, but the training quality varies significantly among sectors of the criminal justice system. Criminological research has progressed in recent years, but many important issues have been neglected particularly policy-oriented issues. 

Many NGOs and private organizations are employing freshers and experienced criminologists and forensic scientists, but the scope is still in the growing phase. In India, the future of criminology and forensic science is on the positive track which will lead to a gradual development of this field deploying a large number of criminologists and forensic scientists.  

In India, criminologists are working as private detectives, crime scene analysts, crime investigators, forensic psychologists, police officers, crime intelligence analysts, researchers, and professors in colleges and universities. 

Criminology in Other Countries

Although criminology is not a well-known field in India, it is one of the most reputed and demanding career options in other countries. They are offering a wide number of professional courses in Criminology to interested students from all over the world. 

The United Kingdom, Australia, the United States of America, and Hong Kong are the top countries that offer professional courses and training in Criminology and forensic science. 

The demands of professional criminologists are high in foreign countries and they are paying handsome stipends to them. The work of a criminologist is considered one of the elite professions. 

In the above-mentioned countries, criminology is a developed field that employs a large number of professionals. People are well aware of the roles of criminologists and are very supportive of them.

Criminologists in abroad work as forensic psychologists, forensic science technicians, fire inspectors and investigators, arbitrators, mediators and conciliators, forensic accountants, financial examiners, immigration and customs inspectors, sociologists, and police identification and records officers.  


Criminology is a professional field that refers to the scientific study of crime and criminal behaviors. It is one of the important fields of the criminal investigation justice system. But still, it is not so well known as a profession in India.

It is not even known to the common people that’s why they do not support and respect this profession. However, in other countries, criminology is one of the most demanding and respected professional courses. 

At present in India criminology and forensic science are in their growth phase, however, there is a lot of development pending in this field. But now the youth is becoming aware of this profession and stepping towards it, which gives hope for the vast development and growth of this field in the future of India. 

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