Within this essay I will be discussing whether criminology is a science and the reasons as to why some individuals' opinions may differ. Criminology can be defined as the study of the creation of laws, laws being broken and with both of these factors in mind it also involves the reactions and behaviors caused by society. Criminology is not only linked to laws that have been broken and criminal behavior, it can also be linked to the variety of behaviors and different levels of sanctions which can also interest criminologists. There are three main parts which make up the study of criminology which are; the study of crime, those that commit the crime and the study of the criminal justice system/penal system. Science is knowledge which has been built up overtime which can be used in day-to-day life. It can mainly be used to experiment new topics and hypothesize on different aspects as well as being used to create evidence. Science helps us to understand both the natural and social world. Criminology and science may be combined as they often complement each other in a way, which can be beneficial when solving crimes, etc. (Newburn, T., 2007).
A principal reason in which some individuals may believe that criminology is a science is because there is use of scientific methodology. For example, observations, measurements and assessments are all used to access crime. They all use disciplines such as biology, sociology and psychology as part of this (Thomas J. Bernard). Another reason as to why criminology is a science is because all of the fields of criminology use some kind of research. Within science, research one of the main techniques in which information is gathered and it is both reliable and a useful source. Because criminologists require useful sources in order to become reliable shows that it is evident that science is needed within criminology. A theory which backs up the fact that science is used within criminology includes Lombroso’s theory. Lombroso mainly focused on the science of criminals. Such as believing that you can be born a criminal and this can be shown through physical features including large or small eyes and an expressive face. Another reason as to why criminology is a science is because science is very often used when solving and looking into crime scenes. For example, fingerprints are often taken in the majority of crime scenes to find and match, this is then put into a database. This technique would not be possible without the use of science and analytical data. As well as this, science must be applied when analyzing an individual's DNA for example through DNA profiling. This is because DNA profiling plays a major role in criminology and has been proved to be a very effective way of solving or looking into crime scenes. As well as this, other forms of DNA can be found through forensic scientists playing their part and collecting samples using a range of scientific techniques.
However, it is also said that criminology is not a science due to the fact that it is an umbrella term which means that groups of words are placed into only one category (Martin D. Schwartz, Walter S. DeKeseredy, 2014). Criminology is actually a study that uses a range of complimentary sciences including sociology, psychology and biology. Each of these complimentary sciences are useful in different ways and can be used to. For example, there are different theories which can be used within each complimentary science including Skinner's theory within psychology. This theory is mainly linked to behaviors and how they are created. He found that looking at the causes of an action and their consequences is the best way to understand why all individuals have different behaviors (Saul McLeod, 2018). Another reason as to why criminology is not a science is because most things in science tend to be stable. This therefore means that the scientific rules tend to remain the same and stay reliable and predictable. However, criminology is not at all stable due to the fact that no one can actually predict the future of crime. As new types of crimes arise, society will change. Also, science is the same across different communities, cultures and countries however crime differs across the world due to the different levels of complexity (what is a crime in some countries may not be a crime in another). Another reason as to why criminology is not a science is because what we know as the legal systems and penal systems are not very scientific and they also tend to dispute the knowledge and statistics that we know about psychology.
In conclusion, there is more evidence to show that criminology is a science. This is because the majority of criminology involves the use of science due to the fact that in order to find evidence within a crime scene for example, scientific techniques are needed. Science is mostly based on evidence and this is key within criminology. Criminology uses scientific techniques including DNA profiling as well as scientific theories which can help to back up information. However, criminology is not a science in some ways due to the fact that it is linked to complementary sciences instead which includes psychology and biology. This therefore means that social science is used rather than pure science, there is a difference between the two. Science is stable whereas criminology is not which could also imply that criminology is not at all scientific. Overall, criminology is more of a science as there is more evidence and theories to support this.