- Steve Case, Steve CaseProfessor of Criminology, University of Loughborough
- Phil Johnson, Phil JohnsonCriminology Lecturer and Academic Subject Leader, University Centre at Blackburn College
- David Manlow, David ManlowPrincipal Lecturer in Criminology
- Roger SmithRoger SmithProfessor of Social Work, Durham University
- and Kate WilliamsKate WilliamsSenior Lecturer in Criminology, Aberystwyth University
This chapter explains what crime is and what sorts of activities are criminalised and why. It begins by considering how society decides exactly which activities should be classed as crimes and goes on to discuss crime from an international human rights perspective. It then looks at crime as a social construct and its relation to deviance, the reasons why some actions are criminalised, the harm principle, and how crime differs from social harm. It also examines whether we need the criminal law in order to hold people to account and punish them, or whether a system designed to deal with any harm caused without apportioning blame would be more effective in ensuring safe and content communities.