Anyone who wishes to discuss the cultural factors in delinquency must first decide upon the scope and subject-matter of discussion. What are delinquency and crime? In many ways, the attempt to answer this question at once takes us to the heart of the problem. As Lord Atkin said in 1939, ‘The domain of criminal jurisprudence can only be ascertained by examining what acts at any particular period are declared by the State to be crimes, and the only common nature they will be found to possess is that they are prohibited by the State and that those who commit them are punished’ (Hall Williams, 1964). There are profound cultural differences between States and regional jurisdictions within States in the extent to which definitions arise from emotion or the views of a ruling class, in the speed of evolution from one particular period to another, in the attitudes adopted to ‘punishment’. These cultural differences, and the various factors influencing them, are the subject-matter of this report. We must begin by discussing the variety of definitions of crime.