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The positivist approach to criminology rejected the classical idea that people who commit crimes do it from free will; positivists believed that it is in our biological make-up, and that we are born with the tendency to commit crimes. So, we do not freely choose to commit crimes, we are born, or not born with criminal elements. While many positivists put our tendency to commit crime on different parts of our biology, the research was scientific – it looked for factual results. It was believed that if we could find factual results, then we could discover what characteristics are present in people who commit crime and then prevent it by finding the same types of characteristics in others – biological or psychological. The approach took this form because it believed that other ways of criminological research were based on elements of life which could not be controlled and which made crime difficult to predict and impossible to prevent. These elements of life were moral judgement, subjective views of people and their beliefs and opinions. Positivists argued that because these elements were subjective, they could do nothing to help prevent crime and criminal behaviour, whereas a scientific approach could give proper statistics, and reliable results, which could gain much ground in the research of criminology.
Although the approach of the positivist school appears attractive, this paper will argue that its final results were not as effective as it had hoped they would be. While it is not argued that the results brought could not be relied on, it is suggested that the results were not reliable enough to be applied to prevent crime. Of course, the prevention of crime based on scientific statistics would be a very attractive idea, both history and results have shown that in practice it has not been as effective as the positivist school promised. To believe in an objective idea of criminal behaviour is not
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