THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY AND CRIME MANAGEMENT
1.1 Background of the Study
The prevalence of crime in the world today is a cause for serious concern for all and sundry. It undermines the social fabric by eroding the sense of safety and security. Crime impacts on society in a variety of ways according to the nature and extent of crime committed. It constitutes a problem when its incidence is so rampant in the society as to constitute a threat to the security of persons and property, as well as social order and solidarity [Onoge 1988]. The costs of crime are tangible and intangible, economic or social, direct or indirect, physical or psychological, individual or community. In fact, it is from the cost that the consequences of crime are derived. The cost of crime can be incurred as a result of actual experience of criminal activities, when there is physical injury, when properties are stolen, damaged or destroyed. It could also be in the form of psychological and emotional pains as a result of shock due to the crime done against the victim. Also the cost of crime can be incurred in an attempt to prevent or control crime. As a consequence of the prevalence of crime in society, the demographic composition may be altered through mass movement of people from crime-prone areas to areas perceived to be relatively crime-free. This can also lead to brain-drain and other socio-economic problems.
Crime is a threat to the economic, political and social security of a nation and a major factor associated with underdevelopment; because it discourages both local and foreign investments, reduces the quality of life, destroys human and social capital, damages relationship between citizens and the states, thus undermining democracy, rule of law and the ability of the country to promote development. Emile Durkheim considered crime to be an integral aspect of society and a “normal” social phenomenon in the sense that it has existed in all societies throughout history. Durkheim believe that mala prohibita crimes (crimes which violates social norms) functions in society as a means of defining the limits of acceptable behaviour, serving as vehicle for social change by extending and testing those boundaries.
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.” [Scott and Marshall, 2009]
Furthermore, a normative definition views crime as a deviant behaviour that violates prevailing norms – cultural standards prescribing how human beings ought to behave normally. This approach considers the complex realities surrounding the concept of crime and seeks to understand how changing social, political, psychological and economic conditions may affect the current definitions of crime and the form of legal, law enforcement and penal responses made by society. For example, as cultures change and the political environment shifts, certain behaviour may be ‘criminalized’ or ‘decriminalized’, which will directly affect the statistical crime rates, determine the allocation of resources for the enforcement of such laws and influence general opinion.