Psychological profiling is one of the modern investigative methods that, in the last 30 years has evolved from what merely used to be described as art to rigorous science that was based on advanced empirical research. From the first research that was carried out, it was revealed that there existed some validity to the idea that some of the aspects of an offender's characteristics may be inferred from the way he acts at the scene. However, ongoing studies on the subject are focused on refining these efforts so that a reliable and systematic framework may be realized and put in place. With this in place, it can provide a clear basis for constructing a useful psychological tool for investigations by the police. Psychological profiling should be understood to mean the process of linking the actions of an offender at the crime scene to their most probably characteristics so that it can help in the police investigations to narrow down by putting more effort on a pool of most likely suspects (Alison, 2013). The aims of investigators focus on matching the behavior of an offender in one situation to actions in another situation. It is confirmed that profiling was first attempted around mid-1880 in the Jack the Ripper serial murder case in London. However, much of the early works on this topic is traced back to 1970s and 1980s when there arose an initiative to focus on the analysis of the crime scene itself. Most of this work was carried out by police investigators and was based on understanding the behavior of an individual at the scene of the crime through interviews with actual offenders.
With its increasing popularity through the 1980s, it came under scrutiny by researchers who devoted a lot of their time on the topic. Consequently, the 1990s saw a new era by the creation of forensic psychology, known as investigative psychology which was spearheaded by David Canter and some of his colleagues. To show the effectiveness of this process, a more recent study that was carried out in the U.S. revealed that around 63% of the interviewed officers agreed that profiles helped them in their investigations, and about 38% felt that the profiles directly assisted in the identification of a suspect (Trager & Brewster, 2001). On the other hand, a quarter of the police reported that the profiles had hindered their investigations.
It cannot be denied that profiling works best for some crimes than others. The process has been applied successfully by law enforcement agencies, and it is, therefore, a valued way of narrowing the process of investigation. It has been evident that crimes which are serial like rape, arson, and serial murder, serial sexual homicide have been found to be some of the crimes which work best for profiling. This is because these types of crime are random and therefore can easily be traced.
Criminal profiling helps law enforcement to determine the person should be looking for. In this case, valuable time is saved by concentrating on possible suspects (Kocsis, 2006). The following are the steps:
The first step is to come up with relevant information about the crime committed this is carried out by the police through thorough investigations.
Answering the questions gathered
The next step involved is to answer the relevant questions gathered with some evidence. They range from basic to complex depending on the selected structure. These questions answered can include, for example, where did the crime take place? What was the type of risk the criminal take? What was the primary motive for the crime? Among others. Now using the information obtained, an assessment of the crime can be made where investigators will try to determine details regarding the behavior of the criminal and the victim from the retrieved answers.
The personality of the criminal is then determined by answering the questions about his behavior in phases considering his post offense behavior, body disposal, method and manner in which he committed the crime, and the fantasies and plans that he had before the crime (Kocsis, 2006).
Determination of the suspect
The last step is therefore created using the full information collected. This step will help to determine the most likely suspects of the crime. The information that is found in the records of a criminal are; race, age, sex, religious beliefs, and psychological characteristics.
Having defined psychological profiling as the process of linking the actions of an offender at the crime scene to their most probably attributes so that it can help in the police investigations to narrow down by putting more effort on a pool of most likely suspects (Alison, 2013). This information is quite useful as it gives direction to the investigators to coil down to possible suspects of the crime. The analysis of the information so obtained through linking it to the suspect's personality makes investigators find the suspect professionally. This is a significant process in determining the crime perpetrators.
It is important to note that a psychological profile is a tool that aids investigators of a crime by telling them the type of suspects they are seeking. This is a process known as psychological profiling which began way back in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Behavioral Science Unit in the 1960s in an attempt to understand the concept of violent criminal behavior (Trager & Brewster, 2001). On the other hand, crime scene profiling was first developed in the United States in the 1970s by the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI. It is believed that serial offenders commit an offense in a less than organized manner, hence leaving evidence at the scenes, and are always apprehended after the first, second or maybe third offense. Crime scene profiling is not only used to identify unknown offenders but also in hostage negotiations and anonymous identifications.
This is an essential process at the scene of a crime. Lastly, offender profiling is an investigative tool that is used by law enforcement agencies to identify the possible suspects of a crime. It has been used by investigators to connect cases that may have been committed by the same suspects thereby proving the accuracy of the process (Alison, 2013). In this case, multiple crimes may be linked to the same suspect and therefore the profile help to identify the suspect's future actions.
Alison, L. (Ed.). (2013). Forensic Psychologists Casebook: Psychological Profiling and Criminal Investigation. Routledge.
Kocsis, R. N. (2006). What Is Criminal Profiling? (pp. 1-11). Humana Press.
Trager, J., & Brewster, J. (2001). The effectiveness of psychological profiles. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 16(1), 20-28.
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