Criminal profiling has recently caught the imagination of the public with relation to it appearing in media forms (Canter, 2000). The common example of criminal profiling in the media is in the film titled Silence of Lambs. Canter (2000) defines criminal profiling as a process that involves using the available information concerning a certain crime to come up with a psychological representation of the unidentified crime perpetrator. The information used by criminal profilers is frequently obtained from the crime scene, and takes into account various factors including what weapons were used in the crime, state of crime scene and what was done and said to the victim of the crime. According to Kocsis (2007), information used by criminal profilers can comprise of geographic pattern of the crime, how the criminal got to and from the scene of crime, and place of residence of the offender. The real process of criminal profiling differs from one profiler to another based on the profiler’s training. However, the objective of all criminal profiling methods or approaches is to deduce about the personal characteristics and behavioral personality of the crime perpetrator in order to catch him or her.
Turvey (2011) also points out some of the major goals of psychological profiling: providing a psychological and social evaluation of criminals; providing a psychological assessment of pertinent possessions found with suspected criminals; and consultation with law enforcement department on the necessary strategies, which should be deployed when interviewing criminals. According to Kocsis (2007), not all criminal profiling process involves all the three objectives. The major process of the profiling is influenced by the needs of law enforcement department for whom they confer with. Kocsis (2007) has also cited that criminal profiling is only suitable when dealing with cases involving criminals who show signs of psychopathology.
A criminal profile will not often by itself provide a solution to a crime or seize an offender (Canter, 2000). However, it is intended to provide assistance to the investigating law investigating law enforcement officials. The criminal profile will also hardly ever be very accurate to an extent of pinpointing a certain individual as the criminal. It should reveal to the law enforcement officials the right step towards identifying the criminal and assist reduce the probable number of suspects. When law enforcement officials have direction, a criminal profiling might show some possibly significant area that they might have undermined. Different from the suggestions from films, criminal profilers do not solve crimes by chasing criminals.
Criminal profiling Approaches
It is extremely significant to note that profiling is not just a single method and that there are various profiling approaches. The three main approaches pointed by Turvey (2011) include diagnostic evaluation (DE), investigative psychology (IP) and crime scene analysis. Other additional methods include geographic profiling.
Crime scene analysis (CSA), an FBI approach, is the most popular technique of criminal profiling (Kocsis, 2007). Until lately, there has been extremely little information available publicly concerning what CSA is and how it functions. Canter (2000) provides best possible description of CSA and fundamental rationale used by FBI to profile criminals. The CSA approach categorizes criminals based on their crime and the crime scene. The two criminal types include asocial and the nonsocial offender. According to Canter (2000), this dichotomous classification is especially applicable to offenses like sexual assault, rape, necrophilia and mutilation.
The types of criminals who comprise the nonsocial and asocial dichotomies are comparatively straightforward, and are disorganized and organized personalities (Turvey, 2011). According to Canter (2000), the organized criminal is often intelligent but an underachiever with a sporadic history of education and unemployment. They are socially adept and usually married, but often have a psychopathic or antisocial personality. The scene of crime left behind by an organized crime usually shows signs of control and planning.
Investigative psychology, unlike CSA is more of a set of associated hypotheses and theories than a complete approach (Canter, 2000). This approach initially originated in Britain. This was mainly because of David Canter’s work on environmental psychology. Psychology has significant association to crime (Kocsis, 2007). This is because crime can be viewed as an interpersonal transaction in which offenders are carrying out actions in a social circumstance, often between their victims and themselves. Canter (2000) also argues that the psychological methods of interaction are integrated into personalities. As such, the reasons for an individual to engage in a crime are direct reflection of the way he or she acts in other normal contexts.
Diagnostic evaluation is not so much a discipline because of the adaptation of psychotherapeutic theory to crime (Kocsis, 2007). Since the approach depends mainly on clinical judgment, there is no one body of work, which can be assessed to determine if id scientific.
In conclusion, criminal profiling is a process that involves using the available information concerning a certain crime to come up with a psychological representation of the unidentified crime perpetrator. Information used by criminal profilers can comprise of geographic pattern of the crime, how the criminal got and from the scene of crime, and place of residence of the offender. The three main approaches include diagnostic evaluation (DE), investigative psychology (IP) and crime scene analysis. Other additional methods include geographic profiling. The CSA approach categorizes criminals based on their crime and the crime scene. Investigative psychology, unlike CSA is more a set of associated hypotheses and theories than a complete approach.