Describe and evaluate offender profiling techniques
Offender profiling is a method of helping to identify the perpetrator of a crime based on the nature of the offence and the manner in which it is committed.
The goals of profiling include making an assessment about the characteristics of the offender, consulting with the police about interview strategies, narrowing down the number of suspects to a manageable size and advising the police on where the offender lives, their motives and what type of crime they may go on to commit. The big question in offender profiling is whether it is an effective way of identifying the perpetrator of a crime.
The American approach was the first offender profiling technique. This technique was based on interviewing serial killers and sex murderers and analysing crime scene photographs. The American approach developed a theory that criminals were either “organised” or “disorganised”. For example, criminals who were “organised” left little evidence behind, usually had a high IQ and were socially and sexually competent and criminals who were “disorganised” made little attempt to hide evidence, usually lived alone and near the crime scene and were socially and sexually inadequate.
P - A piece of research which supports the American approach is Ressler et al.
E - They found that sex killers seemed to follow a pattern. For example, they were likely to be white, unmarried, unemployed males with sexual interests in voyeurism, fetishism and ***********.
C - This supports the American approach as it shows there is a pattern between a criminals characteristics and the crime that has been committed.
P - A piece of research which criticises the American approach is Holmes.
E - He stated that FBI data found that out of 192 cases of profiling; only 88 arrests were made and in only 17% of these did profiling contribute to the arrest.
C - This criticises the approach, stating it is ineffective as in 83% of the cases it did not contribute to an arrest.
P - A criticism of the American approach is that it has been said to be reductionist.
E - This is because it simplifies all criminals into the two categories of organised and disorganised.
C - Therefore it doesn’t take other factors into account and can be criticised for being too simplistic.
P - Another criticism of the American approach is that the sample is too small and is Androcentric.
E - This is because it is based on the interviews of male sex offenders and serial killers.
C - Therefore it cannot be generalised to women and crimes other than sex offenders and serial killers.
Another offender profiling technique is the British approach. This approach was developed in the 1980's and was built on the work of David Canter. The British approach is a scientific approach based on psychological theories and the two key assumptions that one; the individual offender is consistent but has identifiable differences, and two; the offenders crimes mirror their behaviour in everyday life which…