Evaluate the use of Offender Profiling with reference to Empirical Data. [12 Marks]

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Evaluate the use of Offender Profiling with reference to Empirical
Data. [12 Marks]
Holmes (1989) defined Offender Profiling as a method of helping to identify the
perpetrator of a crime based on the native of the offence and the manner in which it is
committed. They are four main goals of using offender profiling, these are narrowing
down the number of suspects, the characteristics of offenders, and consult with the
police about strategies and advise the police on where the offender lives, possible
motives and type of crime. The big question around offender profiling is if offender
profiling is accurate and effective way of identifying the perpetrator of a crime?
The American Approach to offender profiling is based on interviews of serial killers and
sex murderers and analysing crime scene photographs. The FBI has used it since
1976 it suggests that criminals are either organised or disorganised. An organised
criminal plans the crime including roles, weapons used and disabling CCTV, and
leaves few clues an organised criminal usually has high IQ, lives with partner and
follows media coverage of the crime. A disorganised criminal doesn't plan the crime
and has little attempt to hide evidence an unorganised criminal usually lives alone near
to the crime scene, and is socially and sexually inadequate and was physically abused
as a child.
One study that supports the American Approach was Douglas (1931) who reviewed the
FBI approach and stated that profiling doesn't lead to a direct identification of suspects
but in 77% of cases profiling helped focus the investigation. These statistics support the
American Approach as it suggest the benefits outweigh the costs. However one study
that criticises the American Approach is Holmes (1983) who studied FBI data and
found out that only 17% of 88 arrests that used profiling construct contributed to the
arrest. This criticises the American Approach as only a small number of arrest were
made used the American Approach of offender profiling.
One weakness of the American Approach is that it is reductionist, for example it
reduces criminals down to two category of organised and disorganised. Another
weakness of the American Approach is that the sample is too small, for example the
FBI only interviewed male serial rapist and serial killers. Therefore the results cannot be

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An alternative approach is the British Approach, which was developed in the 1980
based of the work of Canter. The British Approach is based on psychological theories
and 2 key assumptions, the first assumption is that individual offenders are consistent
but have identifiable differences, the second assumption is criminal behaviour mirrors
their behaviour in real life. This is called the Criminal consistency Hypothesis.…read more

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One study that supports the geographic approach is Shaw & McKay (1942) who
identified a pattern of juvenile delinquency and crime zones. This study suggested that
delinquency is likely to become the norm in them areas. Another study that supports the
geographic approach is Rossmo (1997) who showed that the geographic approach
could show information about the relationship between the crimes and the place, which
helped identify the offender's home. This supports the geographic approach as it shows
a relationship between the variables.…read more



A well written essay which can provide you with some great ideas when looking at how useful offender profiling is.

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