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Friday, December 25, 2009

Causative factors of Crime and the Programmes for Crime Preventions/Role of Economic and Environmental Factors in Crime Causation

Friday, December 25, 2009 - 1 Comment

The main causes of crime are-(1) Social (2) Economic (3) Physical and developmental, (4) Geographical and (5) Political.

Please consult the answer to the preceding question for an exposition upon the social and economic causes of crime.

Physical and developmental causes

Physical defects also make a man criminal because due to deformities he lags behind these fellow beings in many activities and it is order to remove this difference that he turns to crime. Criminals have usually been found to be extremely ugly. On examining prisoners in the Parkhurst prison, Charles Goring found most of them to be inferior, from the physical viewpoint to the common individual. Mental defects are just as much causative of crime as are physical defects. Among them feeble-mindedness has particularly been found to be a cause of crime. The percentage of feeble-minded criminals among 948 criminals who had committed crimes of various sorts and were studied by Goring was as follows-

Those who set fire to a heap of wheat 52.9 percent

Those who set fire to other forms of property 16.7 percent

Those who robbed and murdered 15.6 percent

Those who committed unnatural sex crimes 41.3 percent

Those who were dacoits 10.0 percent

Gillin calculated that 12 percent of all prisoners are affected with mental diseases. Besides feeble-mindedness, individuals are also led to crime by epilepsy and emotional disturbances. Of the 1000 young men of Chicago who had repeated their crimes, seven percent were afflicted with epilepsy. The reason why crimes orginate in physical and mental afflictions is that such people are the objects of social derision and mockery because of their impeded and disease-hampered progress and this social degradation spurs them to engage in anti-social activities. A person who, being very ugly, fails to win a woman’s love, tries to gain ascendancy over her by time power of money, which he amasses by illegitimate means or by sheer dint of physical power and rapacious activity.


Heredity, according to some criminologists, is one main cause of crime. This view is no longer regarded as scientific but there can be no doubt that lineage and descent have some influence upon crime. Early sexual maturity, mental defects and nervous instability etc. are abnormalities an individual inherits, which help in making him a criminal. In a study in Chicago; Healy went into the family history of 668 out of 1000 juvenile delinquents and found that in all 245 of the families were afflicted by one or another mental defects. In 125 cases their ancestors were also found to be criminals, 61 percent of 823 families which were sampled were found to be suffering from some affliction. But these statistics show the influence of environment at the same time as they indicate the effect of heredity. Some people become criminals due to the influence of psychoses. In this way people indulge in criminal activity in order to make up for mental and physical shortcomings. Elliot and Merrill express this by saying that his criminal tendency may be the reaction aiming at remedying short comings.

Besides physical defects, factors concerning physical development may also sometimes cause crime. As a general rule it can be said that it is between the ages of 17 to 24 that the greatest number of crimes are committed. In old age rape and other sexual crimes increase in number. Murderous crimes are usually committed by young men. Embezzlement, fraud, vagrancy, alcoholic excesses and murder, etc. are peculiar to middle age. Girls who mature early are more prone to become involved in clandestine affairs. In adolescence the aggressive tendency grows.

Geographical Causes

Many Geographical causes also stimulate crime. According to criminologists the geographical factors influence crime indirectly. Lombroso has collected evidence and shown that crimes of rape are more common in plains than in the mountains or plateaus. In Italy where malaria is to be found in excess of every other disease the crimes most common are those that are against the individual. According to some criminologists, in hot countries there are more crimes against the person while in cold countries more crimes are committed against property. Lacassagne had formulated a calendar on the basis of seasonal fluctuations in crime. According to this the greatest numbers of cases of infanticide take place in January, February, March and April, of homicide and fatal assaults in July, of patricide in January and October, of rape upon minors in May, in July, August and most of all December, of rape upon young women in June and January. All criminologists do not agree to such a view of the influences of seasons and climates upon criminal activity but the least that can be said that crimes are susceptible to climatic and seasonal variations in the same degree in which human relationships and tendencies are influenced by them.

Political Causes

Many political causes also encourage crime. Now-a-days many criminals go scot free with prepared legal advice because there is opportunity to prove truth false and falsehood true. This encourages them to engage in further criminal activity. On the other hand, the innocents, who are prosecuted and convicted in their place, also become criminals as a reaction. The ill treatment to which the prison inmates are subjected also hardens the softest of criminal. Crimes are further encouraged by the inefficiency, immorality and corruption of the police department. People connected with political groups also unobtrusively assist criminals and make use of them to inflict injury upon and to defame members of opposing groups.

Means to Prevent Crime

Roughly speaking the way to prevent crime is to counteract the various causes that have been mentioned above. Even new suggestions are being made in this connection. Some important means are-

1. Probation – Probation is the postponement, on certain conditions laid down by the prosecuting authority, of punishment due to a criminal by law. These individuals are kept in the guardianship of some one instead of being imprisoned. According to the Probation Act 1938 of U.P., first offenders below the age of 24 who have committed crimes not punishable by death or life imprisonment may be placed on probation. The decision to place a criminal on probation is taken after due consideration of such factors as his age, his way of life, his conduct, physical and mental condition and others. All criminals placed on probation live under the probation officer’s care. Mostly, it is the minor offender or the juvenile delinquent who is released on probation.

The probation officer performs the following activities for curing the criminal-

1. To keep criminals in his own care.

2. To try to improve and reform criminals.

3. To compile the life histories of criminals and to try to trace their tendencies through them.

4. To send relevant information to courts regarding the criminals.

5. To render assistance to criminals in getting employment.

6. Solution of family problems of criminals such as solving domestic strife and contracting marriage of their daughters, etc.

7. To make efforts to make them good citizens by every conceivable method.

8. To send the criminals to prison once again if they show no signs of improvement.

In this way, the probation officer is both the assistant as well as the saviour of the criminals and tries to put them on the right track by convincing and cautioning them.

2. Parole – Parole is also a means of reforming criminals. Under probation the criminal is given over to the protection of the probation officer without being punished but criminals is placed on parole after he has served a short prison sentence. He is also placed under the parole officer. The parole officer maintains contact with the criminal, keeps an eye on him and tries to reform him. Probation is more popular than parole.

3. Reformatory – In 1876 the Elmira Reformatory was established in New York, U.S.A. Since then this method of reforming criminals has been gaining favour in all civilized countries. Reformatories are of two kinds-

(i) Juvenile Reformatories – The oldest of this kind of reformatory is in India. In this efforts are made to reform criminals, to educate them and to make them successful citizens. Previously, only those who had been given a life sentence were confined in them but now criminals serving shorter prison sentences are also allowed.

(ii) Adult Reformatories – Only adults who commit some specific kinds of common crimes are confined to the reformatories. They receive education in military discipline, physical exercise, religions, the principles of citizenship etc. There are very few reformatories of this kind in India at present. Their success depends mainly on those who run them.

4. Borstal Schools – Another means of reforming juvenile’s offenders is the Borstal schools. Only criminals between the ages of 16 and 21 are kept in these schools. There are many institutions of this kind in different states of India. Here the juvenile delinquentic are educated and efforts are made to turn them into good citizens by providing adequate care.

5. Prison – Prison is a universally accepted means of preventing crime but now-a-day efforts are made to reform rather than to punish criminals in jail. A model prison has been constructed at Lucknow, U.P. where the inmates are provided with all the opportunities to develop their personalities and provision is made to make them able citizens. An important experiment has been made in this direction in U.P. The name of this experiment is Sampurananad Camp. In 1954, 2000 criminals were employed to build a dam across the river Chandraprabha in Banaras district. There was no police to look after them. The warden of the prison was their guide. The criminals lived in tents on open ground like ordinary labourers. All arrangements and facilities such as canteen, hospital, reading room, radio, library, cinema, etc. were provided for them. Teachers and welfare officers educated them. They were paid wages, a part of which was retained to be given to them on release in order to enable them to start business. This experiment was a complete success and it shed new light on the problem of preventing crimes.

Actually, these means are to reform criminals and to prevent them from subsequent criminal activity. These cannot prevent all those factors which must be eliminated from the social, economic and political life of the community in which crimes originate.

Causes and Consequences of Crime/Role of Social Organisation as a Contributing Factor to Crime

Crime is anti-social behaviour which a group rejects and to which it attaches penalties. In this way all those activities for which society lays down attached may be sinful but they would not be criminal. But some thinkers have deemed it comprehensively. In the words of C. Darrow, “Crime is an act forbidden by the law of the land and for which penalty is prescribed”. This constitutes a definition of crime from the social viewpoint. From the legal viewpoint, violation of law constitutes crime. In the words of Barnes and Teeters, “The term “Crime” technically means a form of anti-social behaviour that has violated public sentiment to such an extent as to be forbidden by statute”. This definition does not include those anti-social activities which are not prohibited by law. Actually, criminality should attach both to anti social activities and to activities forbidden by law. Though no punishment is prescribed for anti-social activities, the public opinion always condemns them. According to Garofalo even the actions contradictory to the prevalent conceptions of pity and truth should be considered criminal. To quote Elliott and Merrill, “A crime ipso facto implies a disturbance in a social relationship and a social definition as to what such a disturbance is”.

Causes of Crime
The main causes of crime are – (1) Social, (2) Economic, (3) Physical and developmental (4) Geographical (5) Political.

Social Causes of Crime
The main social causes of crime are as follows:
1. Family and Crime – The family is the most dominant factor in the social causes of crime in India. Now-a-days family disorganisation is to be seen in India. The control previously exercised by the family over the individual is now lacking. In urban areas, all the members of a family are to be seen pursuing their individual paths. With the lifting of family control there are no restrictions to the criminal tendencies of children. Now that the natural relations between parents and children are devoid of love both young boys and girls are prone to criminal activity. Even in the villages the adolescents and young men and women do not respect their elders, and they want to lead a carefree; unrestricted, individual life. Due to all these causes, sex crimes are increasing. One main cause of adultery, abortion, miscarriage, prostitution and juvenile delinquency is the undesirable domestic conditions.
2. Absence of Social Control – A second social cause of crime in India is absence of social control. Previously, the caste panchayats in the village kept control over the behaviour and conduct of the members of the caste. It was extremely difficult to conceal crime in the village and when any crime was revealed the caste panchayats meted out very stern punishments, going to the limit of exterminating the guilty persons from the caste. This tended to control and check crime effectively. Today, these social organisations no longer exist. They have been derived of all their authority. Secondly, with better facilities of transport being available the criminal can commit the crime and abscond from the village to the town of to the village from the town. In urban areas no one is troubled about caste organisation. Now-a-days in big cities, even doing favour to neighbourers is a defunct practices because few have intimacy with their neighbourers and social relationships have been impersonal. Any individual can commit a crime and conceal his identity in the city mob. In this way, the disappearance of the control of caste organisations is another cause of crime in India.
3. Defective Education – Modern education in India is very defective. It does not develop the character of students in right directions. Instead it has led to an increase in selfishness, disorderliness and impertinence. Ethical and religious education has no place in the modern education system. Besides this, even after completing his education an individual does not become capable of earning his livelihood and many well educated people remain unemployed for many years. Late employment leads to late marriage. All these causes tend to aggravate criminal activity.
4. Cinema – Cinema has helped in the increase of crime in India. According to Blumen and Hansen, cinemas indirectly influence the male criminals. The cinema arouses criminal tendencies in men by teaching crime techniques, by exhibiting many kinds of crimes, by stimulating the desire for wealth and comforts, by showing ways and means of appropriating them illegally, by arousing the feelings of bravado, toughness and adventure, by arousing profound sexual urges, by stimulating day dreams of criminal jobs. In much the same way it directs or urges many young and inexperienced women to illegitimate relations and crimes by setting alight the sexual desire, the desire for exhibition, love making, independence and variety.
5. Newspapers – Besides cinemas, newspapers also have a hand in increasing criminal activity. Newspapers increase criminal activity by publishing methods of crime through news items, by printing many news items relating to crime, by making crime a general subject, by printing news of major crimes and showing their advantages, circulating the names of criminals, by highlighting causes which tend to increase crime in the name of studies of crime sand by warning and alerting criminals by publishing police methods. The recent wave of dacoities in India was to some extent indirectly assisted by newspapers.
6. Use of Alcohol – The consumption of alcohol also is one of the major causes of crime in India. Drinking is more prevalent among those who have low standard of life and it is also from among them that the greatest numbers of criminals are coming. There are large numbers of crimes committed under the influence of alcoholic stimulants. Drinking affects not only the drinker and makes him a criminal but it also has a deleterious influence on his entire family and inclines men, women and children towards crime. In this way, drinking increases crime both apparently as well as indirectly.
7. Prohibition of Widow Remarriage – In India widow remarriage is now legally accepted as valid but it is still looked down upon in society. Consequently many young widows do not remarry for the rest of their lives but such a decision does not annihilate their sexual passion and these rather lie dormant in a corner of the mind and wait for a suitable opportunity. Even if the widow is religious and saintly she is pursued by men and is lured to the path of evil and sin by many threats and coaxes. In this way, there is an increase in adultery, miscarriages, abortions, infanticides, etc. When their sinful practices are made public many women commit suicide.
8. Defects of the Marriage and Dowry System – In India the dowry system also is among the social causes of crime. On the one hand the dowry system urges the fathers of girls to earn money through illegitimate means for their daughter’s marriage, it on the other hand, leads to suicide by many young girls who can not bear to see the degraded condition of their parents, the dowry system as further encouraged late marriages, both in girls and in boys. In extreme cases, the lack of wealth compels a girl to remain unmarried throughout her life or at most she is married to an old man or to an unsuitable partner. All these also tend to increase sex crimes in society. Very often the parents do not care to ask the girl or boy for opinion and sometimes even proceed against it. This also results in suicide and other crimes.
9. Religion – Religion has also been one of the causes of crime in India. This doe not mean that religion itself encouraged crimes but the encouragement has come from the different sects who originated in the differences of opinion between people on matter of religion and in the hatred for other religions. In a general way, of course, communal riots and crimes such as looting, murder and so on, perpetrated in order to increase the followers of one’s own religion and to injure another religion have always been happening in India, but the crimes committed during communal riots in the name of religion, when the country was partitioned in 1947 were unequalled in the history of the world. Helpless women were denuded and taken in procession through the main roads all the time being whipped. Their breasts were cut off; they were violated and mutilated, their children’s hearts were cut out in front of their eyes. The most heinous crimes that can be discovered in the history of criminal activity have been perpetrated in India.
10. Changes in Social Values – There has been a tremendous change in social values in recent times in India. Now-a-days, new notions such as materialism, individualism, rationalism, the respect for wealth, absence of sex restriction etc, are becoming very popular in the country. This has led to a disregard of ancient social values and new values have been reinstated in their stead. There is no one common opinion of any kind in them. This disordered state of values also inspires crime because and individual can manage to produce an argument to justify even that which is improper.
The preceding exposition on the social causes of crime in India will have brought to light the extent to which the defects of such social organizations as family, caste, religion, marriage etc, have no geographical, economic, political and other causes but it is intended merely show the important part played by social organization in crime.

Economic Causes
The main economic causes of crimes are the following:
1. Poverty – In India one sees extreme poverty. Poverty is a major cause of crime, since a hungry man can do literally anything in order to appease his hunger. One comes across instances where a criminal commits a crime immediately on his release from prison in order that he may be imprisoned again where he is assured of a square meal. Outside the prison he ahs no such assurance. Dr. Haikerwal has investigated that in the period 1917 – 1927 thefts increased in number when the prices of wheat went up, decreased when wheat prices fell. In this way; a close relation is found to exist between the number of crimes and the prices of food-grains in India. It was found in the course of a study conducted upon the prostitutes of Kanpur that one major cause of prostitution is poverty. Poor girls are easily enticed by men who violate them, take away their virginity and put them on the market. One even comes across news of suicides and murders of families due to poverty.
2. Unemployment – Unemployment, much like poverty is a major cause of crime in India. Many young men commit suicides when they are frustrated by extreme poverty and continued unemployment. Many others turn to thieving, picking pockets, robbery etc. Among the people who are seen creating disturbances, causing violence, etc; the majority are the unemployed. Most gangsters do not work, Gangsterism is their only occupation.
3. Industrialisation – Industrialisation is also an important cause of crime in India. It has destroyed the family life of millions of labourers. They work very hard for eight to ten hours in the day during which they have to suffer many indecencies and for this they have to live in towns far away from their families. Continued existence of this type leads them to indulge in drinking alcohol and in prostitution and this encourages other crime. In India, the most prospering centres of prostitution are important industrial towns which, at the same time, foster crimes such as murder, assault, disturbance, robbery, etc. Industrialisation has encouraged crime also due to another reason. Housing becomes a problem in an industrial town when the population increases beyond limits in some towns thousands of families live in houses having no more than one room each. In such conditions the married women have no privacy and children and unmarried members witness happenings which they should not see. This had a bad influence upon them and sex crimes increase among them. Sex crimes increase tendencies to other crimes which then take place. In industrial towns many thousands of labourers and men otherwise are compelled to live alone and this tends to split the ration of men to women, which consequently encourages sex crimes. Many girls from rural areas are deceived with promises of employment and brought to towns where they are forced to adopt prostitution.
4. Urbanization – Urbanization is the result of industrialization and other causes. Hence all those crimes caused by industrialization are also caused by urbanization. In cities the society fails to exercise control over the individual who loses his identity in the mob after having committed a crime. There is no such facility, however redoubtable in the village. In towns there are better opportunities for picking pockets and practising deception in a crowd. There is absence of healthy recreation in the town and hence the crimes are committed. Gambling dens, indecent theatres and wine shops provide means of spurious recreation. This encourages crime.
It is evident from the foregoing account of the socio-economic causes of crime in India that there the main causes of crime is social and economic. Absence of reliable statistics makes it difficult to say definitely that the causes of crime here are hardly psychological. But what can be said is that since life in India still lacks some of the velocity and crowdedness of Western life, the psychological causes of crime in India do not compare favourably with their counterparts in America and other Western countries.

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