Offender profiling

  • Created by: grestabi
  • Created on: 11-12-18 16:37
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  • Offender profiling
    • Outlines the type of person likely to have committed the crime. Based on prior experiences and uses computer databases to analyse what is already known.
    • Top Down approach - used by FBI
      • Starts with the big picture and then fills in the details. Relies on previous experiences of crime.
        • In 1970's, FBI's Behavioural Science Unit gathered data from 36 sexually motivated serial killers to develop this approach, including Ted Bundy and Charles Manson.
        • In 1980, Hazelwood and Douglas published their account of the 'lust murderer'. They advanced a theory that lust murderers are mainly categorised by Organised and Disorganised
          • Organised offenders lead an ordered life and kill after some sort of critical life event. Actions are premeditated and planned, likely to bring weapons and restraints to the scene. Likely to be of average to high intelligence and employed.
          • Disorganised offenders more likely to commit a crime in a moment of passion. No evidence of premeditation and are more likely to leave evidence such as blood, semen, murder weapon etc. Thought to be less socially competent and more likely to be unemployed
      • Reductionist as the classification system is too simple. Offenders are not simply organised or disorganised, may have traits from both categories. May start of disorganised but become more organised as they develop their Modus Operandi.
      • Alison et. al (2002) argues this approach is based on out-dated theories of personality factors being stable. External, situational factors can be a major influence on offending and they are constantly changing.
      • Top down theory can only be applied to sexually motivated killers because of the motivation of the original sample that they interviewed. Did not interview offenders with other motivations, e.g. financial
    • Bottom Up approach - used by the British police force.
      • Starts with small details and creates the big picture. No initial assumptions are made about the offender and it relies heavily on computer databases.
        • Canter (1990) (the UK's foremost profiling expert) created this approach and looks for consistencies in offenders' behaviour during the crime. His most famous case was John Duffy - the 'Railway ******'.
          • Canter analysed the geographical details and the evidence to find a very accurate profile on Duffy who carried out 24 sexual attacks and 3 murders of women in London in the 1980's.
      • This approach has wider applications - it can be applied to other crimes, not just sexually motivated ones (positive over top-down approach)
      • Police must be careful not to be blinded to other possibilities. Occasionally criminals do not fit the profile and overuse could lead to miscarriages of justice.
      • Geographical Profiling
        • Used to make inferences about where the offender is likely to live.  Canter's Circle Theory (1993 - Two models of offender behaviour: 1) marauders (commit crimes close to home) 2) Commuters (travel away from home to offend)
          • More difficult to geographically profile commuters, however there may still be other patterns in the offender's crimes, even if they are in different locations.
        • Evidence for geographical profiling: Lundrigan and Canter (2001) collated evidence from 120 murder cases and found that offender's home base was invariable located in the centre of the crime scene pattern.
      • Investigative Psychology
        • Using computer databases, patterns are identified and it's possible to see if a series of offences are linked.
          • Central to this is the concept of interpersonal coherence, where an offender's behaviour at the time of the crime is comparable to their everyday behaviour. Degrees of violence used in serious offences may reflect how the criminal treats people in their non-criminal life
        • Much more scientific approach than the top down approach as it uses databases
        • Evidence: Canter and Heritage (1990) analysed 66 sexual assault cases and identified clear, common patterns in behaviour

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