CRIMINOLOGY IN THE FUTURE
Crime fighting, also referred to as criminal justice, is used to describe a system of institutions and practices laid forth by the government so as to deter, mitigate and control crime, and also to sanction and rehabilitate those who commit criminal offenses. There are various sub-branches in criminal justice and one of these is criminology. This sub-branch involves scientifically studying the extent, control, causes and nature of criminal behavior in both the society and the individual. This sub-branch is an interdisciplinary field that is based on research conducted in sociology, social anthropology, and psychology. Since research is a progressive activity, changes are expected in criminology and also in how law enforcers fight crime.
It is evident that criminal activities are becoming more complex mainly due to advances made in science, technology and psychology. Criminals are now using some of the latest technology to pull off crimes and hence the need for crime fighters to adapt technology in their operations and also to formulate improved structures for combating crime (Harris, 2009, p. 11). This therefore means that expected trends in crime fighting include increased use and integration of technology into the criminal justice system. For example, it is projected that more surveillance cameras will be installed in crime hotspots so as to try and minimize crime activities in the area and also to provide hard evidence required for convicting criminals. Yeung (2011) points out that various police departments in the United States are investing in surveillance drones, facial recognition software, and systems for detecting gunshots.
Besides the financial implication of the direction crime fighting is taking, there are also social implications. These include the loss of privacy for the public as most of their activities will be monitored by CCTV and security cameras. However on the positive side for the society, the future directions crime fighting is taking will reduce criminal activities and hence increase security among members of the society. An increase in security will consequently mean that there will be increased investor confidence which can help boost a country’s economy resulting in improved living conditions for the citizens.
Biometrics refers to a field in technology where an individual can be identified using specific features of their body. As a crime fighting methodology biometrics includes the use of voice and facial recognition, and palm and fingerprint identification. There is huge potential for biometrics in combating crime especially in areas such as finger print identification where a large database has already been accumulated over the years. Other areas such as voice recognition also have huge potential especially in detecting crimes before they are committed from telephone calls. However, voice and facial recognition are still not yet fully developed as there are independent variables that can alter their effectiveness. For example an individual’s voice may change due to age, background noises and also illness. Scholars in the criminal justice system believe that with more research, biometrics will indeed give crime fighters an edge over crime.
Globalization has led to increased interconnectivity of computer and other communication networks around the world. This interconnectivity has had its advantages as well as its limitations. One of the disadvantages is increased cyber crime which involves crimes targeting computers or the use of computers to facilitate criminal activities. Criminal justice officers are currently facing an increased number of cyber crimes around the world. This has led to the officers teaming up with other stakeholders such as IT specialists in an attempt to reduce cyber crime (Moore, 2010, p. 55). The most common countermeasure for cyber crime is educating the public on various cyber crimes and how they can prevent themselves from falling victim to such and also in reporting such crimes to the relevant authorities. Access Control Lists have also been established in various cyber crime prone networks to determine the traffic and services that can be allowed to go through network check points.
The greatest potential for combating cyber crime lies in mass education on the dangers that lurk in cyber space. This way the criminal justice system can have the public alert to cyber crime and avoid them falling prey, and also to alert law enforcers whenever such crimes are detected.
As stated earlier, criminal activities are getting complex with technological advancement. Criminals are now using sophisticated software to conduct their crimes and also to hide their tracks. An example of these is the use of steganography, which involves hiding data in data storage volumes (Wingate, 2011). This data is so well hidden that it is almost impossible to detect it with the normal forensic tools. This is why the use of steganalysis as a forensic tool is fast evolving into an integral process in most forensic analysis. The use of steganalysis comes about as law enforcers try to keep abreast with evolving criminal activity. The integration of this process in forensic analysis is also necessary as software to hide data using steganography are readily available on the internet, some of the software is even offered as freeware. This increased availability increases the likelihood of even petty criminals using such complex processes to hide their tracks. Steganalysis as a forensic tool can be done using either of two major approaches. One of the approaches involves an analytical process while the other is referred to as ‘ blind detection’. The use and increased research on the two approaches has been promoted by the need for the criminal justice system to have an edge over law breakers.
Other evolving law enforcement techniques include surveillance almost in each part of the cities in our country. This surveillance is evolving from simple CCTV cameras in public places to filtering of calls and other electronic communications such as SMS as the law enforcers try to detect criminal and terrorism activities before they happen. It is important to note that for countries like the United States a major step was taken towards increased surveillance after the Twin towers attack on 9/11. This is the same for other countries that have experienced major terrorism or criminal attacks, or who felt also at risk after the 9/11 attacks; they all realized that being proactive through ways such as the use of increased surveillance is the best way to protect themselves against such criminal and terrorism acts.
All of the law enforcement technologies discussed previously in this paper do indeed give the criminal justice an edge over criminal activities but some of them when misused end up violating the public’s civil rights. For example when some government agencies eavesdrop on all the telephone calls made in a state they are violating the people’s right to privacy (Harris, 2009). This is why it is necessary that even with heightened efforts to combat crime and terrorism that the people who are being protected should not feel violated. Ethical violations may also occur when surveillance cameras are installed in places that are considered as private areas such as washrooms, changing rooms, and hotel bedrooms.
As criminals and terrorists become sophisticated in their activities forcing law enforcers to become more sophisticated in how the latter fights crime, it has also had an effect on national and international policy making. Policy makers have to ensure that they allocate enough funds to criminal justice systems to allow them to invest in sophisticated technology to combat and detect crime. Policy makers around the globe and in individual countries also have to contend with maintaining a balance between preserving national security and not violating the public’s civil rights. The situation is made worse by the fact that some criminals and terrorists use such civil liberties to canvas their illegal operations. It is hence the duty of policy makers to ensure that even during protection of civil liberties a country’s national security is not put at risk. The evolving technologies used in crime have also made it clear that security matters should be given first hand consideration during policy making. The case of the 9/11 attack is a clear indicator to policy makers how one terrorism activity can negatively impact a country and the world in terms of economic and life losses. This therefore calls for all policy makers to give security matters the urgency they require.
Wingate, J. (2011). “ An Analytical Approach to Steganalysis.” Forensic Focus. Retrieved from
http://www. forensicfocus. com/analytical-steganalysis
Yeung, B. (2011). “ Inside Criminal Justice.” The Crime Report. Retrieved from
http://www. thecrimereport. org/news/inside-criminal-justice/2011-02-techno-
Harris, N. (2009). Crime Fighting: The Impact of Science and Technology (Pros & Cons).
Wisconsin: Gareth Stevens Publishing
Moore, R. (2010). Cybercrime, Second Edition: Investigating High- Technology Computer
Crime. New York: Anderson.