The top-down approach


Offender pofiling

  • Investigative tool employed by police when solving crimes.
  • Narrow field of enquiry and the list of likely suspects.
  • Professional profilers often called upon to work alongside police, especially during high profile murder cases.
  • Compiling profile often involves careful scrutiny of the crime scene and analysis of evidence (inc. witness reports) in order to generate a hypothesis about the probable characteristics of the offender (age, background, occupation, etc.)
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The American Approach

  • Originated in the US as a result of FBI work in the 1970s.
  • FBI's behavioural science unit drew upon data gathered from in-depth interviews with 36 sexually motivated serial killers including Ted Bundy and Charles Manson.
  • Offender profilers will match what is known about the crime and the offender to a pre-existing template that the FBI developed.
  • Murderers or rapists are classified into one of two categories (organised or disorganised) on the basis of evidence.
  • This classification informs the subsequent police investigation.
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Organised and Disorganised types of offender

  • Organised
    • Evidence of planning the crime in advance
    • Victim is deliberately targeted and will reflect the offender's 'type'
    • High degree of control during crime and may operate with almost detached surgical presicion
    • Little evidence left at the scene
    • Tend to be of above-average intelligence in a skilled, professional occupation
    • Socially and sexually competant
    • Usually married and may even have children
  • Disorganised
    • Little evidence of planning (spontaneous)
    • Body usually still at the scene
    • Little control on the part of the offender
    • Lower than average IQ and in unskilled work or unemployed
    • History of sexual dysfunction or failed relationships
    • Tend to live alone and often very close to where the offence took place
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Constructing an FBI profile

Four main stages:

1. Data assimilation - the profiler reviews the evidence (crime scene photographs, pathology reports, etc.)

2. Crime scene classification - as either organised or disorganised

3. Crime reconstruction - hypothesis in terms of sequence of events, behaviour of the victim, etc.

4. Profile generation - hypothesis related to the likely offender, e.g of demographic, background, physical characteristics, behaviour, etc.

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