Offender Profiling


3 Types of Profiling: Descriptions

US (top-down) approach

Term was first coined by the FBI in the 70s, they began to research the family backgrounds, behaviours, crimes and motives of serial killers- interviewed 36 murderers. Using this info they developed a classification system for serious crimes e.g. murder and ****. Found that the analysis of the crime scene links to the behaviour of the individual (organised/disorganised)

British (bottom-up) approach 

Assumes that the criminals behaviour and personality is consistent- which will reflect how they act in day-to-day life e.g. some ******s are violent and absuive whilst others are far less violent. Includes data analysis- lookin for patterns e.g. a ****** that apologises to the victims (likely to be one person), forensic awareness- do they clean up after themselves?- Davies et al (1997) likely to have a conviction for burglary & bottom up- builds a profile up from the crim scene

Geographical profiling 

Analyses the locations of crimes to determine where the offender travels, lives and works. This apprach uses cognitive maps and criminal geographic targeting.

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Evaluation of US approach

Limited use because it can only be used on very serious crimes e.g. **** and murder which are rare

Does it work? Douglas (1981) found that it rarely leads directly to the offender (15/192 cases) but narrows down 77% of investigations 

Poor methodology information is based on convicted murders raised by an opportunity sample- not reliable as they are manipulative, also these offenders were all caught unlike those still at large & the interview was not standardised 

Too simplistic because the organised/disorganised method may lack validity Canter (2004) analysed 100 murders and found that no such characteristics were found at the crime scenes-'power/control'  killings were found in over half the sample and therefore just typical of murders, not a distinct type.- an argument against Holmes and Holmes (1998) who found that organised derived from a power and control killer whereas disorganised is someone who is impulsive and maybe suffering a break with reality

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Evaluation of the British approach

Supporting evidence includes House (1997) different types of **** can be identified from characteristics from the crime- Santilla et al (2003) found consistent patterns among juvenile fire-setters

Does it work? Britton (1992) sent questionnaires to CID chiefs who reported that profiled were neither accurate nor contributed to arrests HOWEVER Copson (1995) sent questionnaires to police officers who said that profiling was helpful in narrowing down the investigation 80% of the time

How predictable are offenders? Mokros and Alison (2002) used data from 100 UK stranger ****s and found no correlation between offenders e.g. age and intelligence and their crime scene behaviour - HOWEVER they did find some correlation between offenders and whether the crimes was committed at day or night

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Evaluation of Geographical Profiling

Supporting evidence includes Canter and Larkin (1993) who tested models of offender movemenent using data from 45 UK rapes- they found a pattern of 'marauder' rather than 'commuter', 87% of rapists moved in a region around their homes to carry out attacks. Snook et al (2005) 63% of serial killers murder within 10km of their home & Lndrigan and Canter (2001) found that there are common body disposal patterns surrounding the home

Other applications Goodwill and Alison (2006) found that Geographical prfiling proved to be the most helpful, followed by temporal (when crimes were committed) and that behavioural profiling was the least useful

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