Society consists of different kinds of people. Each society is different from the other. Society is not static but it is bound to changes. No society is completely pure or perfect. Each society has its own merits and demerits. The laws or rules made or sanctioned by the government is responsible for ensuring the regulation of societies. In every society, crime is inseparable. No society is completely out of crime. To know about the cause and effect of crimes it is necessary to learn about them. As a result, some members of society try to learn about crimes. The study of crimes is known as criminology. It opens up scope for studying about nature of crimes thorough investigation and a door to know about the offender.


The study of crimes, its causes and effects are called as criminology. The term criminology has been defined differently by different scholars. According to Paul W. Tappan, crime is an intentional act or omission in violation of criminal law, committed without defence or justification and sanctioned by the law as felony or misdemeanour. According to Raffeale Garofalo, natural crime is the act which offends the basic moral sentiments of pity and probity. Furthermore, the social definition of criminology is that the crime is an act in which the group regards as sufficiently menacing to its fundamental interests, to justify formal reaction and to restrain the offender.


1. Pre-classical school:

In the pre-classical school of criminology, it was believed that there is a superpower who regulates the individual and his activities. This school believes that the criminal mindset is possessed by the devil. The judgement under the pre-classical school of criminology was based on worship, sacrifice and ordeals by water, fire, etc. Oath and Ordeals have played a very significant role in the ancient judicial system. An individual was considered as guilty based on the test by ordeals.

2. Classical school:

The classical school of criminology was established by Bentham and Beccaria. They tried to define the term crime in legal terms. According to the classical school of criminology, a person can choose what is right and wrong. The choice is made without any force or outside intervention. The advocates of the classical school of criminology suggest that the punishment to an offender must be in proportion to their crime. This school was against the cruel or physical form of punishment. Mainly, this school is based on the principles of hedonism, rationality, punishment and human rights.

3. Italian school:

The Italian school of criminology focusses on the scientific and systematic study of crime by analyzing the causes of crime, the behaviour pattern of the offender and other various factors. The Italian School of criminology is also known as the Positivist school of criminology. This school is against the free choice theory of classical school. This school of criminology was originated in the 19th century. According to this school, the causes of an individual becoming a criminal is due to the biological, psychological and social patterns. The major exponents of this theory are:

(i) Cesare Lombroso:

Cesare Lombroso is known as the father of modern criminology. He was the first person who studied criminals using scientific methods. According to him, the skull of the offender is different from the skull of peoples like a normal person, insane, etc. The appearance of the criminal is different from that of others. There is a huge difference between them and others. He classified criminal into three categories namely, born-criminals, insane-criminals and crinoids. However, he was subject to severe criticism. The critics argue that his assumption regarding the bond between atavism and criminal behaviour has no scientific base. They also argued that the individual is subject to changes and he cannot be static.

(ii) Enrico Ferri:

Enrico Ferri is one of the major advocates of the positivist school of criminology. He is known as the founder of Criminal Sociology. He studied criminal conduct by analysing the psychological and economic factors. According to him, the nature of crime changes due to changes in conflict, dissonance and variations in culture. He classified the criminal into five broad categories namely, insane criminals, born criminals, habitual criminals, occasional criminals and passionate criminals. He was against moral responsibility and declared that it is wrong to punish for retribution and moral culpability. In his major book ‘Law of Criminal Saturation’, he claims that crime is a product of three main ingredients:

a. Anthropological.

b. Physical

c. Psychological or social.

Nevertheless, Enrico Ferri was subject to criticism. He was criticized for denouncing punishment for moral culpability and retribution.

(iii) Raffaele Garofalo:

Raffaele Garofalo was a senator, magistrate and the professor of criminal law. According to him, natural crime is the conduct which violates the basic moral sentiments of pity and probity. The lack of probity leads to crimes against property and lack of pity causes crimes against persons. He classified criminals into four broad categories:

a. Criminal deficient in probity- criminal probity in thieves are those criminals who are thieves.

b. Lascivious criminals- Lascivious criminals are those people who perform crimes against virginity.

c. Endemic criminals- Endemic criminals are those people who commit offences out of passion.

d. Violent criminals- violent criminals are criminals who commit their crime due to prejudices of beliefs in honour, religion, politics, etc.

4. Typological school

The advocates of typological school of criminology argue that criminals differ from non-criminals in certain characteristics. This difference is visible in their personality. This school combines three schools of criminology namely, Lombrosian, Mental Testers and Psychiatrist school. According to this school, certain traits in an individual compels him to do acts which are punishable where other people can’t do in equal circumstances. The tendency of an offender is unique, special or inherited in such acts.


The term criminology refers to the study of criminals based on various factors. The term is defined differently by eminent scholars and jurists. As from traditional society to modern society, the discipline and subject matter of criminology has catered new theories and schools. These schools and theories have a huge impact and influence while studying about crimes and their allied concepts. However, the subject of criminology will continue to grow as time passes.

Written By : Muhammad Aslah