Importance of Criminology in Pakistan
Criminology is a scientific discipline that has gained immense importance in the recent years because of the complex nature of the crime, its different kinds and the way it is committed. Before we embark on the topic in hand, it is necessary to throw light on its definition.
Criminology is the scientific study of crime and criminal behaviour, its causes, responses to the crime by the law-enforcement agencies, criminal law, control and prevention of crime.
It studies the nature, extent, causes and control of criminal behaviour.
Eminent criminologists Edwin Sutherland and Donald Cressy define criminology as under:
“Criminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon. It includes within its scope the processes of making laws, of breaking laws and of reacting towards the breaking of laws. The objective of the criminology is the development of a body of general and verified principles and of other types of knowledge regarding this process of law, crime and treatment.”
On the basis of this definition, the most important areas of criminology are:
The development of criminal law and its use to define crime
The causes of violation of law
The methods used to control criminal behaviour
Increasing importance of criminology in Pakistan
It goes without saying that studying criminology is becoming more and more significant all over the world. However, its importance in the case of Pakistan has increased manifolds in the recent years.
Here, I will discuss different aspects that give criminology greater space to play its part in making the country safe and peaceful.
1. Large youth population
It is generally believed that a big majority of offenders fall in the age bracket of 15-30 years. It is the age when an individual’s delinquency or risk-taking behaviour is at its peak. Pakistan being the fifth most populous country in the world, hosts the fifth largest population of youth as well. According to the United Nations Population Fund Report of 2017, around 63 percent population of the country comprises youth aged between 15 and 33 years. Such a large young population has posed a daunting challenge to the law-enforcement agencies (LEAs), particularly police and the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD). This is the context that attaches great significance to the field of criminology in Pakistan.
2. Socio- economic issues
Socio-economic problems of Pakistan, which include poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, slums and poor neighbourhoods, drug addiction and higher dropout ratios are the factors which encourage crime; thus making the study of criminology very much relevant.
Since the Pakistan’s decision to join the US-led War on Terror, Pakistan was the second severest terror-hit country, after Afghanistan. Many deadly terrorist attacks including suicide blasts were launched on Pakistan’s civil and military agencies, institutions and the general public. The most heinous was the one committed upon the Army Public School, Peshawar, on 16 December 2014 which took lives of 132 schoolchildren, ranging between eight and eighteen years of age, making it the world’s fourth deadliest school massacre. In this incident, a total of 142 persons embraced martyrdom whereas 114 were injured. These terror incidents require elaborate planning, ideological support base, transportation and facilitation networks and financing. Without the study of all these contributing factors, such terror networks cannot be eliminated. Study of all the factors and processes is the domain of criminology.
4. Security of the projects having implication on foreign policy of Pakistan
There are certain projects the security of which has direct bearing on the foreign policy of Pakistan. Two of such significant projects are the development of Gwadar Port and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Gwadar port in the insurgency-hit province of Balochistan is the linchpin of the mega CPEC project sponsored by China. Both the Gwadar port and CPEC have become potential target of the insurgents and militants backed by the hostile intelligence agencies. There have been many attacks on the Chinese officials by these insurgents – the recent being the one in which a woman suicide bomber detonated herself near a bus, killing three teachers from China and a driver, near a Chinese language learning centre in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a militant separatist group which is funded by the hostile intelligence agency (RAW), claimed the responsibility for the attack.
Criminology comes in to play its role when the study of the following aspects is made:
The way such militant organizations are formed
Modes of recruitment, incentives for the new recruits
The way they execute their terror designs
Terror financing, interests of the external state and non-state actors, role of the hostile intelligence agencies
Response of the law-enforcement agencies, intelligence-gathering, detection of the transportation and facilitation networks and the ways to root out insurgency
5. Crime in the cyber space
Of late, the menace of crime has shifted to the cyber space because of the growing use of the Android cellular phones and social media among the youth of Pakistan. National Response Center for Cyber Crime (NRC3) has been established by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to respond to the ever-increasing cybercrime. Some of the examples of cybercrime are hacking, identity theft, digital piracy, banking frauds, child pornography and spamming. According to the former Director General of the FIA, Dr Sana Ullah Abbasi, as many as 102,356 complaints pertaining to cybercrime were received by the FIA in the year 2021. He further told that Facebook was used as a medium in 23 percent of the complaints. Investigation of such crimes requires commitment and relevant technical expertise on the part of the investigators.
Criminology gives us better understanding of the cybercrime and its different modes. Every good book of criminology contains at least one chapter on cybercrimes and the recent trends in this domain. This aspect enhances the significance of criminology in Pakistan.
Role of the Punjab Forensic Science Agency
Forensic science is one area of criminology that deals with the crime detection and objective examination and analysis of the evidence found on the crime scene which leads to the perpetrator of the crime on the scientific basis. The Punjab province has taken the lead by establishing state-of-the-art Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA). It has helped police in investigation of the cases, and the conviction rate has significantly increased in the cases in which forensic evidence, duly verified by the PFSA, is available. Other provinces should establish such Forensic Science Agencies (FSAs) on the model of PFSA. This is practical application of criminology in the field of criminalistics.
Controlling white-collar crimes
Being a developing country, Pakistan is facing the challenge of white-collar and corporate crimes, which are a big challenge to the development and prosperity of the country. Corruption in the development funds is common in the country because of the overwhelming influence of the powerful white-collar criminals on the country’s criminal justice system. They take benefits from the loopholes in the system and go scot free.
It comes under the scope of criminology to study the different dimensions of white-collar and corporate crime and learn the lessons from the countries where such crimes are successfully curbed and controlled. It has been rightly said that the damage caused by white-collar crimes is many times greater than that caused by ordinary crimes.
Role of Punjab Safe Cities Authority
Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA) was established in 2016 for the video surveillance of major cities of the province. With the passage of time, it assumed other functions such as emergency call taking and dispatch of these calls to the field forces, traffic management and delivery of video footages. Apart from these core functions, this institution started analyzing the crime data and then notifying the findings to the field police offices for implementation. These findings include the following:
Timings of crime – hourly crime analysis and weekly crime analysis
Location of crime – crime hotspots based on the location of the distress callers
Identification of the 10 percent of the police stations where around 65-70 percent of the total crime takes place.
These findings help the police leadership in relocating their resources as per the proportion of crime at a particular location and time. This kind of analysis and its findings are the area of interest of criminologists.
R&D branches in all the Central Police Offices of the province
Research and Development (R&D) branches in all the Central Police Offices (CPOs) of the province have been tasked with analyzing the crime trends and patterns in the provinces and giving the input of predictive nature to the field police officers. This predictive analysis helps in the prevention of crime. However, the officials posted in R&D branch require relevant training for skills in predictive analysis.
Importance of criminology for different professionals
Importance of criminology for the following professionals in Pakistan can never be overrated:
§ Personnel of the law-enforcement agencies
§ Personnel of the Intelligence Agencies
§ Parole and probation officers
§ Psychiatrists and psychologists
§ Policymakers, statesmen and the parliamentarians
To conclude, it is stated that criminology, being the study of crime, its different kinds, modes of commission of crimes and response of society to crime, has a significant role to play in reducing the crime and making society safe, secure and less prone to criminal tendencies. Professionals may use the knowledge of criminology in the field of criminal justice system and get better results.
The writer is a civil servant, belonging to Police Service of Pakistan (PSP).
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