Criminal Profiling Notes

What does this crime scene tell you about the offender responsible?
You live in a quiet neighborhood with lots of families. One day you come home
and find this has happened to your front window and you find a baseball in your
living room. Who do you think did it?
Today’s session
You are learning to...
Typological offender
Geographic profiling
The 2 above are in addition
to Inductive and deductive
Draw inferences from
behavioural data
Apply profiling principles to
make judgements about
Compare and contrast
psychological ideas
You are learning about...
Inductive Profiling
An example of this is a re-offending rapist whose target are white women, is not
likely to be black, because crimes of the past that have been similar to this one
have rarely crossed racial lines. However, these statements have been questioned
and have experienced a lot of publicized drawbacks.
• Inductive profiling involves assuming that when a
criminal commits a crime, he or she will have a
similar background and motive to others who
have committed a similar crime.
Deductive Profiling
A deductive profile is set up based on the offender's actions before, during
and after committing the crime. For example, if the murderer used a
makeshift weapon, investigators are then able to deduce that the crime was
probably spontaneous.
• Deductive profiling involves a process that
avoids generalizations and averages. This
method involves intently studying suspects in
extreme detail and adapting findings in which
new evidence surfaces.
• Serial killers are also known to stick within their
'comfort zone', for example, their own
neighborhood, before traveling further as their
sense of power and domination heightens. A
serial killer often leaves behind a signature or
trademark of their work that is usually
unnecessary, but emotionally fulfills the killer.
There are usually also similar aspects, which will
link the crimes together, for eg. the method of
murder or the victims may all have some form of
similarity. Profilers use this to trace and link
crimes committed earlier together.
Serial Killers
Two important ideas
• Behavioural evidence
– Things that tells us how an offender went about
committing a crime
• Criminal consistency
– The idea that a person’s behaviour at a crime
scene is consistent with their behaviour in other
Typological offender profiling
• Developed by the US Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) in the 1970s and 1980s.
• Key ideas:
• Generally used in cases of serial violence against
strangers esp. sexual or ‘bizarre’
– There are different types of offender
– Behavioural evidence can tell us which type of
offender committed a crime(violent, rape, murder)
– Knowing an offender’s type allows us to predict other
things about him
Problems with typological profiling
– Assumptions about stable types
– Incomplete data
– Subjective judgements
– Small and unusual sample
– Validity of methodology
– Narrative & anecdotal evidence
• What problems can you identify with the FBI’s
approach to offender profiling?
Data assimilation
Data compiled from police
reports, post mortems,
crime scene photos etc.
Crime classification
Profilers decide whether
the crime scene is
organised or disorganised
Profile generation
Offender’s physical,
demographic and
behavioural characteristics
Crime reconstruction
Hypotheses about crime
sequence, offender &
victim behaviour etc.
FBI profiling process
General approach
Planned and controlled
Unplanned and chaotic
Brought to the scene
Destroyed or removed
Left at scene
Attempts to control
Little attempt at control
Unknown to victim
Socially & sexually
Normal/high intelligence
Possibly known to victim
Socially & sexually inept
Low intelligence
Types of crime scene
Profile these crime scenes
• Use the evidence to construct a profile
– Organised or disorganised
– Behavioural evidence
– Known characteristics of serial offenders
– Tell the story of the crime
– Describe the person responsible
• Your profile should…
Compare and contrast…
– Purpose
– Assumptions
– Use of categories/types
– Types of crime applicable
– Evidence base
• How are geographical and typological offender
profiling similar and different?
• Describe and evaluate one or more
approaches to offender profiling.
Study collections