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Scope of Criminal Psychology

In today’s world , crime became an essential element of the society without which we can’t even imagine of a crimefree society. So, it is a challenge for the government to make its people feel safe and secure by preventing crime and criminals in a society. Is it possible for them by just framing new criminal laws or by just punishing all the criminals with more rigorous punishments?

The answer would be NO because if you have to get rid of something ,then u must have to understand every aspect of that particular thing. So to prevent crime and criminals from the society, we have to understand the cause of it – Why crime happens?

How does a criminal mind works? and
What is the cause behind the crime?

Answer to all these questions will be answered in either Criminology or in Criminal Psychology. So, to prevent crime and criminals from the society , one should understand and become a expertise in criminology and criminal psychology.

According to psychology, criminals can be characterised under two categories .i.e. Psychopaths and Sociopaths. Psychopaths are the ones, who are born with high criminal tendencies .Sociopaths are the ones , who are not born with high criminal tendencies but due to external factors like – emotional imbalance , economic issues , family issues due to they choose a path which ultimately leads them to the path of crime. As we know nobody wants to become a criminal in his/her life. But unknowingly they indulge in an act which leads them to commit crime and become a criminal .

Now we can get an idea ,that the Criminal Psychology is the need of an hour to prevent crime and criminals from the society.

What is crime?

According to Law, crime is an act committed or omitted in violation of public laws. It is also considered as an act forbidden by law. It mainly constitutes 2 components .i.e. Actus Reus and Mens Rea .

According to Psychology ,there are mostly three acceptable theories which define crime.
They are:
i. Consensus view
ii. Conflict view and
iii. Interactionist view.

Consensus view-

According to this view ,change is constant in its nature so, how can a crime stay constant with the change in society. In short, crime changes with the change in society. For example – Child marriage is considered as a crime in present society but earlier in the medieval era it wasn’t considered as a crime.

Conflict view

This view is exactly opposite to the consensus view. Here , society is considered as the collection of diverse groups due to their differences, conflicts rises between them and these conflicts promotes crime.

Interactionist view

This is the view which falls in between the consensus and conflict view. According to this view ,there is no moral right or moral wrong , rather the change in moral standard affects the legal standards.

Crime can be considered as an act which violates the rights of the people and affects the society at large by motivating or influencing psychopaths as well as sociopaths and creates terror and distrust environment among the society.

What is criminal psychology?

There are so many different aspects taken to understand the nature , cause and distribution of crime. One of these aspect is Criminal Psychology .

Criminal psychology is considered as one of the important branches of criminology. So many criminologists and psychologists have tried to define it but till date there is no specific or universally accepted definition of criminal psychology.

But some of the definitions which we can consider are:
According to G.H. Gudjonsson and L.R.C Haward in U.K. defined criminal psychology as ,"The branch of applied psychology which is concerned with the collection, examination and presentation of evidence for judicial purposes".

According to Legal Dictionary ," Criminal Psychology is considered as the study of will, intention , thoughts , feelings and reactions of criminals and those who engage in criminal behaviour".

As we know Criminal Psychology is the new specialization field which came in early 19th century. So their is no such big historic events occured in the history of criminal psychology. But we can trace the roots of criminal psychology which were found in America and some parts from Britain, Europe and Russia.

While in india, it can be traced back to the year 1916 when first department of experimental psychology was established in Calcutta university. After which Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan national institute of criminology and forensic science came up in Delhi in 1972.

Then in 2001 it achieved a global recognition as a specialized field by A.P.A.

Who is a criminal psychologist?

A criminal psychologist deals with the psychological aspects of legal process such as understanding psychological problem associated with criminal behaviour treatment of criminals applying theory to criminal investigations.

Some of the veteran psychologists or criminologists are:

Alfred Binet

He was the first French psychologist , who performed the series of experiments to understand intelligence.

William Stern

He was the first professor who discovered the emotional arousal in the eye witness testimony.

Hugo Munsterberg

He is the father of forensic psychology .He released his first book on the witness stand.

Role of criminal psychologist:

Criminal psychologist will cover a range of roles such as
1. Research evidence to support practice
2. Implementing treatment programs
3. Advising parol boards
4. Modifying offenders behaviour
5. Responding to the changing needs of prisoners and staff.
6. Appear in court as an expert witness.
7. Mental Health Tribunals.
8. Statistical analysis used for prisoner profiling.

Scope of Criminal Psychology:

We can figure out the scope of criminal psychology through four basic roles. These roles are:
1. Clinical role: In this role , experts uses assessment of a person who had committed a crime or who has been declared as an accused by the courts .these assessments can be used to determine if a person is competent to stand in a trial.

2. Experimental role : In this role, experts conducts researches in order to help judges and jury to decide a case by questioning the eyes witness credibility and giving their observations to them.

3. Actuarial role : In this role , expert uses statistics such as probability of an event and they also uses to ask livelihood of an individual reoffending .

4. Advisory role : In this role criminal psychologist advices police in regards to an investigation . It also helps the judges to understand the criminal behaviour or psychology of the accused and helps them in establishing accurate justice.

Scope of criminal psychology is very vast . A person who studies criminal psychology and seeks for a career into it can have many options to become. They can become law enforcing officers or investigating officers etc. Recently our Minister of Home Affairs , Amit Shah called for setting up of National Police University and Forensic Science University, with affiliated colleges in every state. So , a person who is interested and is looking for a career in criminal psychology, can find various good options for their career .

My suggestions for improving the Scope of Criminal Psychology are:
1. More no. of research papers must be published on criminal psychology .
2. More frequently seminars , workshops and training programs should be conducted .
3. Every university and school should appoint a criminal psychologist to their campus, so that they can counsel students and help various psychopaths or sociopaths to stop becoming criminals or not to commit crime.

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