Crime at its simplest is an act prohibited by law upon pain of punishment (Hall-Williams 1964). Theorists such as McCabe (1983:49) stated that no word in legal and criminological terms could define the word crime for the varying content in which an act is categorised. Due to the broad spectrum surrounding crime, differing understandings about human subjects and premises lead to the development of several theories, assumptions and forms of criminal law.
Michael and Adler (1933:2) are often cited as an example of the legal description of crime: “the most precise and least ambiguous definition of crime is that which defines it as behaviour which is often prohibited by the criminal code”. The extending of the definition of crime is heavily
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This led to forms of social organisations as well as individuals, which were defined as violation of rights as “individuals who deny these rights to others are criminal. Likewise social relationships…which regularly cause the abrogation of these rights are also criminal. If the terms imperialism, sexism and poverty are abbreviated signs for theories of social relationship…which cause the systematic abrogation of basic rights, then imperialism, sexism and poverty can be called crimes…” (Schwendinger and Schwendinger 1970:148). Their position on the definition of crime is therefore political. An example of crime as a violation of human rights can be seen in Nazi Germany where the state could be viewed as a perpetrator of crime rather than the authority that defines crime due to event of certain groups of the population having their human rights assaulted. Therefore the role of criminology and criminologists is to guard those basic human rights. Extending the defintion once more, Ulrich Beck (1992) viewed another perspective of crime; green criminology. Green criminology in a broad sense focuses upon crimes commited against the environment. The degradation of the natural environment is a global issue needing a unified front as its response, regardless of the geographic seperation of nations. The birth of green criminology is a reflex movement towards the risks that have surfaced due to the breaking of tradition where changes