Crime is not a new phenomenon. It has always
existed from time immemorial. Crime can be said to be socially constructed
because, the society defines crime. Every neighborhood or community we find
ourselves in, we discover that they have their own way of life which invariably
determines the laws that they follow and which also determines what they know
as good or bad.  An act cannot be known
as a criminal act if the society does not collectively agree that it is. For example,
rape is a violent act and it is also a universal act which society as a whole
sees as a crime or even still, a mental illness. Some societies take things
more seriously than other societies, for example, in the Unites States of
America, speeding is seen as a deviant act, but places like Nigeria, the is no
legal body available to control speeding, that is why we see that, as The
Vanguard Newspaper states, as at 2017, 1070 Nigerians died because of road
accident. Society plays an important role in defining crime as this is needed
making laws of the society which will prevent crime (as defined by the society)
from taking place. Society’s outlook on the particular act is important in
defining crime because, for example, if society doesn’t consider giving bribe, stealing,
murder etc, they would not be seen as crime and no law would be made on that,
although, it is morally incorrect. Therefore, crime is relative to the society.

Dambazau
(1994), defined crime as “an act or omission against public interest, and which
is prescribed by law enacted by the legislature in the overall interests of the
society, and to which prescribed punishment is attached in the event of
violation and it involves four major principles which are public wrong, moral
wrong, law and punishment for the criminal. Crime is also seen as a violation
of the rules agreed to be respected by all members of the society, and upon
which the rest members of the society meet sanctions that the legal system
views crime as a public and moral wrong”.

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 Mathews (1993) says, “Crimes are the outcome
of social changes, which is brought about by social developments and exposure
of Nigerians to the Western culture and their life style”. According to Oxford
Dictionary of Sociology (2009:139) “a crime is held to be an offence, which
goes beyond the personal and into the public sphere, breaking prohibitory rules
or laws, to which legitimate punishments or sanctions are attached, and which
requires the intervention of a public authority… for crime to be known as such,
it must come to the notice of, and be processed through, an administrative
system or enforcement agency. It must be reported and recorded by the police
(or other investigator); it may then become part of criminal statistics; may or
may not be investigated; and may or may not result in a court case.”

The
makeup of crime is based upon the interaction of four key elements, which is
also known as the chemistry of crime. These elements or components are


The victims


The offenders


A possible target and

-The
absence of a guardian.

For
crime to be said to occur, these elements have to interact together.

According
to criminologist, crime has two major elements which are:

–         
The criminal act

–         
The criminal intent, also known as
rationality

These elements are important because
they determine what we know as crime. If any of these elements are absent, then
crime would cease to exist.