Crime is not a new phenomenon. It has alwaysexisted from time immemorial. Crime can be said to be socially constructedbecause, the society defines crime. Every neighborhood or community we findourselves in, we discover that they have their own way of life which invariablydetermines the laws that they follow and which also determines what they knowas good or bad. An act cannot be knownas 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 wholesees as a crime or even still, a mental illness. Some societies take thingsmore seriously than other societies, for example, in the Unites States ofAmerica, speeding is seen as a deviant act, but places like Nigeria, the is nolegal body available to control speeding, that is why we see that, as TheVanguard Newspaper states, as at 2017, 1070 Nigerians died because of roadaccident. Society plays an important role in defining crime as this is neededmaking 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 indefining 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 whichis prescribed by law enacted by the legislature in the overall interests of thesociety, and to which prescribed punishment is attached in the event ofviolation and it involves four major principles which are public wrong, moralwrong, law and punishment for the criminal. Crime is also seen as a violationof the rules agreed to be respected by all members of the society, and uponwhich the rest members of the society meet sanctions that the legal systemviews crime as a public and moral wrong”. Mathews (1993) says, “Crimes are the outcomeof social changes, which is brought about by social developments and exposureof Nigerians to the Western culture and their life style”.
According to OxfordDictionary of Sociology (2009:139) “a crime is held to be an offence, whichgoes beyond the personal and into the public sphere, breaking prohibitory rulesor laws, to which legitimate punishments or sanctions are attached, and whichrequires 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 administrativesystem or enforcement agency. It must be reported and recorded by the police(or other investigator); it may then become part of criminal statistics; may ormay not be investigated; and may or may not result in a court case.”Themakeup of crime is based upon the interaction of four key elements, which isalso known as the chemistry of crime. These elements or components are-The victims-The offenders-A possible target and -Theabsence of a guardian. Forcrime to be said to occur, these elements have to interact together.Accordingto criminologist, crime has two major elements which are:- The criminal act- The criminal intent, also known asrationalityThese elements are important becausethey determine what we know as crime. If any of these elements are absent, thencrime would cease to exist.