chapter  2
30 Pages

Offenders and non-offenders: spot the difference?

Since the early days of their discipline, many criminologists have played the game of ‘spot the difference’ between offenders and non-offenders. If differences could be found, it was thought that these would hold the key to developing a theory (a systematic account of the causes) of crime, as well as opening up the possibility of an intervention before a crime is committed. We have seen how Lombroso became famous, and then infamous, for his attempts to find biological differences between the two groups. Although Lomboro’s specific ideas were largely discredited, this did not stop the attempt to continue the broad tradition of searching for biological differences in the twentieth century. Others have looked for differences in terms of psychology; here the differences sought may be, for example, in terms of types of personality, one or more of which may be suggested as having a propensity to crime in general, or to a certain kind of crime.