Paper Example on Offender Profiling

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1656 Words
Date:  2022-04-04


Offender profiling refers to a set of techniques that are used to work out the characteristics of a criminal through examination of the traits of their offences. By so doing, predictions are made based on the behaviours shown in the commissions of a crime. Profiling is geared towards providing information about age bracket, personality, race of the perpetrator to police. According to Ainsworth (2001, p.7) profiling means using every available clue concerning the crime, scene of the crime and victim with an aim to understand and compose a profile of the unknown suspect. It attempts to use knowledge of the way an offence was done, to suggest direction on the psychological characteristics in play. The process is useful in a police investigation because predictions about the traits the offender might possess help police target their investigation more effectively( Ainsworth, P. 2013).

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There are numerous kinds of profiling Canter, (2010). In this paper, the focus is put on investigative, clinical and FBI methods of psychological profiling. The statistical approach attempts to classify offenders for statistical comparison. It is a broad indirect spectrum whereby criminal groupings are categorised. Based on research of 383 criminals, Cesare Lombroso, the Italian Physician, established a range three different categories of crimes. These included those that are criminals from birth, offenders as a result of physical and mental illnesses and criminaloids (offenders with non-specific characteristics). Lombroso's theories state eighteen physical characteristics that identify a born criminal if they possess five or more of them. The approach is still used to date.

Currently, in the United Kingdom, offender profiling is undertaken by the association of chief police officers and behavioural investigative advisors. BAI is a professional organization consisting of people with a wide experience in crime and with the knowledge to incorporate trait advice in an investigation (Rainbow, 2007). Both units have the capacity to add onto various dimensions of the police process. BIA is concerned with guiding interviews, and the investigation, risk assessment and prioritization of familial DNA( Rainbow & Gregory, 2009). There are limitations in using BIAs in aiding police investigations notably that they are suited to crimes that have a sufficient amount of offender behaviour (Rainbow and Gregory, 2009). The reports generated do not give information pertaining to the innocence or guilt of a person. The advice rendered is to provide an increased understanding of the occurrence of an event and to guide and make accurate investigative decisions.

Investigative style of profiling uses established theories and analytical methods to foretell the traits of offenders using behaviour observed in the doing of a crime. It includes several areas of psychology with the aim of deriving character traits of a criminal mounting on his conduct during the action of the offense (Alison, Bennell, Mokros, & Ormerod, 2002). It explores organized behaviours, e.g., concealing of a victim's body which are core elements that occur often. The style incorporates the use of statistical techniques in psychology to categorize different types of offenders together in a bid to create scientific classifications. Investigative psychology presents a broader unit that extends further than the occurrence of violent crime into other more conventional offences (Alison 2002). It has been widely practiced since the 1990s providing information about the character of an offender and using that to guide the structure of an investigation, to make crucial decisions and directing interviews of the suspects.

Investigative profiling is particularly essential when measuring the weight of a testimony. Many times it crosses path with forensic psychology with the distinguishing factor being that the later focuses o treatment of offenders after the completion of the judicial process. The method put merely, searches for clues in behaviour-trying to rationalize the psychology behind an action. Because it is multi-disciplinary involving geography, science and even sociology it is useful in determination and apprehension of culprits. Distance decay, which operates on the principle that an offender is less likely to reside in an area if there's an increasing distance has been successful in 87% of serial rapist cases and 89% of cases involving serial murder.

The percentages are just satisfactory when one takes into consideration the considerable numbers in statistics of serial crime reported every year. The homicide index recorded in March of 2015 within Wales and England stood at 518, 1% lower than the past year. It is good work, but that margin is still too narrow. A lot needs to be done in this area. The record states that homicides incidence were highest in children less than a year of age, i.e., 35.8 incidents in a million population. Adults were found to have increased rates in comparison to children above a year old (Fahsing, & Ask, 2013). In 2015, there were reported 64% male homicide victims the only lowest statistic ever recorded. The reports also showed that women were far more likely victims of attack from exes and current partners. The proportions for this variable stood at 445 for females and 6% for male victims. More resources need to be pulled into prevention of gender-based violence as reports show. Homicides occurring as a result of the friendship variable were higher for men (32%) than for women (8%). 60% of murders involving victims aged below 16 were perpetrated by a parent or guardian. Everyone agrees that these statistics are baffling. The established methods of investigation need to be continuously modified to fit different situations as they arise (Newburn, Williamson, & Wright,2012) . Moreover, there is the utmost need for departments of law enforcement to pull resources together- using these entire offender profiling methods in conjunction to decrease crime occurrence. It is a sure way to reduce the bracket of offenders who get through the cracks as a result of stereotyping or focus on only one idea.

The FBI approach towards criminal profiling started in the 1960's. Howard Teten, then a police with San Leandro department developed an intricate interest in the multi-disciplinary understanding of forensic science, mediological death investigation and knowledge of psychiatry. He went on to introduce his program in the year 1970 as an investigative aid to be used in collaboration with other tools of investigation Newburn (2012). After forging a partnership with Pat Mullany, teaching continued within the New York FBI division on the anomalies in psychological aspects in criminal profiling. It involved dissection of a crime, pointing out abnormal behaviour, and then formulating a design on how the action could be unmasked using evidence found at the crime scene. Mullany got transferred to the new FBI academy in 1972 where the application of concepts learned occurred. These techniques were applied in significant hostage negotiation situations in 1975 with absolute success (Alison, & Rainbow, 2011). from then onwards, these adaptations that built on methods of criminal profiling became the first teaching to FBI negotiation agents. The now FBI behavioural Science unit is an expansion and modification of those principles (Alison, et al 2011). Gradually other parts of the world including England, Netherlands and South Africa incorporated the criminal profiling mechanisms highlighted above and individuals identifying as independent profilers also cropped up. This profiling is founded in the sociological, forensic and psychological sciences.

Contrary to how it seems, profilers are not always accurate in their predictions. In actuality, they are only appropriate about 45% of the time (Bennell et al., 2006). Numerous critics argue that the percentage is not elevated enough to be of use in an investigation and a set minimum accuracy level is absent.

First among the drawbacks of FBI profiling is that it demands consistency. Profiles of serial killers, for example, take time to enumerate depending on the frequency of the occurrence of the crime (Tong, Bryant, & Horvath, 2009). That being said, the information used depends on the traits of the victims, gender, age, hair colour, etc. which must be consistent. Sometimes, serial offenders may act out of the assumed profile for whatever reason resulting in escalated crimes and the worst case; the offender could get away with it.

The FBI technique of criminal profiling is characterized by having unclear language and ambiguity which cannot be verified. In an Article published in the New Yorker in 2007, in which the FBI methods are called out as being useless have been supported by psychologists as allowing multiple interpretations instead of offering a clear and precise description of the offender (Tong, 2009) . Over-reliance on crime scene facts provides a pedestal for wrong guidance in the direction of an investigation. It can occur as a result of forming stereotypes of offenders, e.g., assuming all sexual offenders has a history of sexual assault while this may not necessarily be the case.

FBI criminal profiling is still helpful in spite of its shortcomings. The most practical one is that it yields information that is useful to the investigation in question. Accurate behaviour analysis is a stable platform onto which future predictions of the repeat occurrence of a crime can take place ( Lee 2011). All profiling eludes an increase in the level of protection of would-be victims. Through victim logy reports, law enforcers establish an offender is targeting individuals in a defined geographical area, or of specific skin colour and thus those areas can be closely monitored in anticipation of an attack. Such close surveillance achieves successful thwarting of criminal activities.

Profiling by the FBI has achieved prevention of crime proactively through the existence of profiles that have aided in catching violent offenders. These arrests may not have been possible without information on the history of a potential criminal, demographics and other traits (Tong, 2009). The available characteristics push the investigation to the next level without which it would be otherwise stuck in the mud.

Of all the three methods of profiling, the only one that has received the utmost criticism if clinical profiling. Clinical profiling is also a multi-disciplinary process that relies upon forensic psychiatry. The approach deals with the diagnosis and the treatment of individuals suffering from mental illnesses, i.e., uncovering psychopathic offenders. A psychotic disorder is one that is persistent, a psychological disability that showcases through detrimental irresponsible behaviour or abnormal aggressiveness. According to Copson, Badcock, Boon & Britton (1997), this approach informs ju...

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