Administrative Criminology

Administrative Criminology Sociology Definition


An approach to studying crime known as administrative criminology ignores theoretical understandings and instead emphasizes possible crime prevention. To facilitate crime prevention and detection, it promotes methods like closed-circuit television.

It is a word developed by Jock Young to describe a movement within criminology centered on improving the criminal justice system’s effectiveness, notably through situationally-based crime prevention.


Administrative criminology, according to Sociology of Deviance researcher P Mayhew, “re-focuses the work of preventing crime on decreasing and managing possibilities for it, rather than attempting to change people’s propensity to offend or rehabilitate known offenders.”

Classical vs. Administrative Criminology

While classical criminology primarily focuses on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system to dissuade offenders from committing crimes, administrative criminology focuses on situational crime prevention.

Administrative criminology concentrates on the crime rather than the offender. As a result, the concepts of opportunity and decision-making are given special attention, with criminals being viewed as “rationally” considering the advantages and disadvantages before committing a crime.


Administrative criminology has two related perspectives: routine activity theory and rational choice theory.

Routine activity theory

The American criminologist Marcus Felson is mainly credited for developing the routine activity theory. The theory, like administrative criminology in general, focuses on crime episodes and their sources within the “routine activity” that makes up daily social life rather than on the causes of crime as they are often understood.

It is assumed that there will always be people in society who are, for whatever motives, driven to commit a crime to vary degrees. It is suggested that opportunities and a logical evaluation of the associated risks and benefits determine whether or not these motivated individuals take the plunge and participate in illegal behavior. Predatory crime is the emphasis, and the goal is to develop practical policies based on raising the stakes while lowering the benefits of crime to stop it from happening. 

Routine activity theory, therefore, shares many similarities with rational choice theory, with the main difference being that the latter is concerned with individual and situational criminal occurrences. At the same time, the former takes a step back and analyzes crime events on a societal basis.

Rational choice theory

The rational choice theory is predicated on the notion that society is full of potential criminals. Therefore, the next step is to investigate the precise conditions that lead a person to decide to go ahead and commit a crime. Once this is known, appropriate interventions—also known as situational crime prevention—that aim to change these conditions can be developed.  “Conventional” crimes like burglary and criminal damage are the main emphasis.

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