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Essay on Criminal Profiling

1. Does current research support the notion that criminal profiling is an art or that it is a science?

Criminal profiling, also known as criminal investigative analysis, refers to the systematic study of an individual crime or similar series of crimes to identify the perpetrator of the crime. This technique determines the behavioral and personality characteristics of the offender and allows investigators to create their criminal profiles (White & Lester, 2016). In other words, the investigators examine and scrutinize the circumstances linked to severe crimes to justify the feasible characteristics of the offender concerning that crime. Besides, criminal profiling has different terms and meanings, such as behavioral profiling, criminal personality profiling, and investigative psychology. However, all these terms direct to a similar objective: to help investigators analyze evidence from a crime scene, victims’ reports, witnesses, and profile offender descriptions.

Criminal profiling has a long history dating back to the early criminal research in the 1880s when crime scene pieces of evidence were used to make forecasts about British serial killer (Turvey, 2011). Also, in the mid-1950s criminal profiling was used in a criminal investigation by a psychiatrist called James Brussel to arrest the “Mad Bomber of New York.” Therefore, the work in profiling was heavily based on informal studies and experience until leading to the debate concerning the credibility of criminal profiling recently (White & Lester, 2016). In contrast, profiling has become a common subject of interest in the general public and media, referring to the current TV shows such as “Profiler” and movies such as “The Silence of The Lambs,” “The Bone Collector,” “Jack The Ripper,” “Man Hunter,” “Taking Lives,” to mention a few (Herndon, 2007). Besides, the profiling has been traced in novels such as Thomas Harris’s “The Silence of The Lambs” around the late 1980s, James Patterson’s “Kiss The Girls,” “The Poet” by Connelly, to mention a few. These documentaries and writings portray the art of profiling where the investigators and characters show mystical skills in solving difficult times. As a result, the public becomes fascinated because of the concept of entering inside the criminal’s mind.

On the other hand, modern criminal profiling is a science that is rooted in criminology, psychology, and forensic science. It gathers information such as behavioral tendencies, personality traits, biographic or demographic descriptions, and locations of an offender relating to the crime. Besides, scientific methods are implemented in profiling, such as data collection, observation, theory development, and hypothesis testing (Chifflet, 2015). In this regard, science explains the accuracy in profiling after validating and measuring the ability to predict the offender’s characteristics. Therefore, scientific profiling relies on behavioral evidence and the techniques used. Concisely, criminal profiling has evolved into a new science based on forensic science data and behavioral research. Criminal profiling is also broadly established as an art because it is dependent on an individual’s central knowledge from investigative experience. However, the potential of profiling needs to be tested and evaluated before integrating it as an investigative tool because it is challenging and exposed to fragmentation. In this regard, fragmentation occurs in offender profiling, such as individual differences in culture, frameworks, and profiles, creating different profiles by the profilers. Therefore, profiling should be used as a guide to collect detailed facts while relying on mental and physical skills, insight, and intuition, which are acquired through experience. In contrast, criminal profiling is applied when the offender’s identity is unknown and in serious offenses such as murder or sexual assault. The profilers then follow the sequences of crimes after considering that a similar person committed the crime.

2. Explain the role of objectivity in criminal profiling. Is it possible for a profiler to be objective? Explain

In contrast, objectivity in criminal profiling ensures that results obtained in profiling are based on objective evidence and information. In other words, its application refers to controlling individual prejudice, biases, and perspectives and eliminates these personal suspicions, hunches, opinions, or guesses (Jones, et al., 2018). Objectivity becomes an integral part that helps to make the offender’s forecasts with maximum accuracy and unbiased facts. It is because criminal profiling analyzes the data and the nature surrounding a crime to predict inferences about the offender’s personality and qualities. Therefore, it greatly helps to identify the perpetrator of the crime as it is regulative and guides all inquiries.

The role of objectivity

Objectivity eliminates biases in criminal profiling, especially those that come from the profilers. In this regard, an inclination, a prejudice, or inconsistent preference for and against a thing or an idea in an unfair manner leads to falsified findings and wrong conclusions. Therefore, objectivity increases the provision of justice in solving crime and reaching a ruling that is free from biases (Weston & Sanders, 2021). Besides, objectivity prevents discrimination of any category because the profiler only records accurate information linked to a suspect or a crime. The role of profilers is to analyze the collected data and create predictions that are informed by evidence. Therefore, objectivity ensures that their opinions, thoughts, and suspicions that might affect the conclusions made about the offender are avoided and the correct predictions made to prevent prejudice and wrong accusations.

Similarly, objectivity is a necessary and significant goal to achieve while doing sound research. In this regard, the in-depth collection and data analysis highlight a characteristic of objectively-related research since evidentiary information and materials are revealed and studied. As a result, criminal profiling provides accurate information because only facts are analyzed about the committed crime. However, several biases can occur non-consciously, and individuals tend to incline to their inner thoughts to identify the possible preferences within themselves (Jones et al., 2018). Therefore, this asymmetry data leads people to think that other observers experience more bias after viewing a criminal event.

On the other hand, objectivity ensures that high standards of professionalism are reached when considered in criminal profiling. In other words, it guarantees that the profilers maintain impartiality and integrity when profiling suspects (Kafadar, 2019). Besides, the interpretations and conclusions made also result from extensive profiling processes that eliminate bias, and also profilers implement professional ethics when performing a task. Therefore, professionalism is achieved by making the findings valid, consistent, and reliable. Similarly, objectivity smoothens the criminal identification process because investigators remain neutral and only rely on conclusions derived from facts (Winerman, 2004). It offers clarity since facts are reliable and consistently provided, making it possible to identify offenders.

Further, it is conceivable for a profiler to be objective, and this is achieved if only the profilers ensure that they are realistic and unemotional during the profiling process. In other words, any personal suspicions, views, feelings, and opinions should not influence their analyses and conclusions. Instead, factual evidence and information should be the foundation of criminal profiling, and these aspects make the profiler objective and impartial.

3. Are criminal profilers used for run-of-the-mill crimes? Under what circumstances would law enforcement bring in a profiler for assistance?

Criminal profilers are not required to solve run-of-the-mill crimes because these are ordinary cases that relevant law enforcement systems can solve. In contrast, criminal profiling is a systematic practice reserved for complex criminal cases that require expertise and techniques from someone who has been in similar crimes (Snook et al., 2008). It is because the expert is knowledgeable about the possible shortcomings of the crime and how to overcome them. These profilers also are equipped with critical thinking skills such as reasoning and logic, strong intuition, and analytical skills. Therefore, support from an experienced individual is not required in run-of-the-mill crimes, as these crimes are ordinary.

Similarly, criminal profiling is an active activity that needs time because it involves thorough information gathering. This process starts at the crime scene to discover and assemble complex pieces and carry out a comprehensive investigation (Vettor, 2011). The information gathered is then used to build a criminal profile, and it includes assault information, forensic evidence, the victim, and other crime-related information. Besides, behavioral and physical data is collected at the crime scene to assist the profiler in accessing the criminal and draw a possible solution shortly. In contrast, the profiler always attempts to recreate the crime and analyze raw data at the crime scene to make a profile. Also, the profiler gathers the offender’s psychological and personality data, anticipating future possibilities of attack and holding them. In this context, it is evident that all the efforts that profilers perform in the criminal profiling process are not suitable to solve run-of-the-mill crimes because these are petty crimes. Therefore, the expertise of criminal profilers to handle such cases remains unwanted unless the crimes are persistent and the solution is unavailable.

On the other hand, the criminal profiler can be called for assistance by law enforcement under these circumstances. For instance, when specific knowledge is required to solve a concern rather than relying on general knowledge and when the opinions of witnesses are acceptable as evidence. In this regard, it is challenging to justify that a finding is considered correct and has crossed the limits from experimental to verifiable. At the same time, evidence obtained from experts and derived from known scientific concepts or discoveries is acceptable in court (Sethi & Barney, 2017). Similarly, a profiler is called when technological or scientific knowledge is required and will help establish a fact in understanding the evidence and determining a point in controversy. An expert is then required to provide proof in an opinion that is based on facts because they have skills, mentoring, and understand the dependable principles. Also, assistance is called for when the criminal profiler is permitted in a criminal trial to provide an experience that at times is beyond the judge experience our usual knowledge (Van Aken, 2015).

Similarly, the profilers are called on special crime investigations that require techniques to balance the competing interests of ensuring public safety and individual rights. Further, criminal profilers support law enforcement and fire service organizations to offer operational and behavioral-based assistance such as investigating repeated or unique violet crimes. The profilers use historical evidence and analytical skills to determine the patterns of violent behavior and surrounding that lead to these crimes.

4. Compare and contrast the various approaches to criminal profiling.

There are two significant ways of criminal profiling: geographical profiling and profiling a criminal’s characteristics. The geographical approach defines and predicts the patterns of offender-related parameters using information about their location and the timing of the offenses (Chamikara &Jayathilake, 2015). There are many ways in which geographical profiling is used to profile an offender in crime investigation, but the frequently used application predicts the criminal’s probable residence place. It is performed with the help of knowing where they live, their knowledge about that particular place, and understanding the connection between an offender and the location, such as why those places attract more crimes than others and why there is a repetition of addresses as reported by the victimized. In other words, geographic profiling becomes suitable for serial offenses committed in categories of murder, rape, bombing, child abduction, property theft, sexual homicide, to mention a few. After the investigators and law enforcement use the results obtained from geographical profiling to protect the vulnerable areas. Other principles used to make decisions of geographical profiling include “routine activity”, “least effort”, “rational choice”, and “distance decay” (Chamikara &Jayathilake, 2015).

In contrast, the least effort explains that criminals stick in areas where they have control, and the routine activity explains that the victim is linked to the suspects’ daily activity. The principle of distance decay explains that criminals make less effort to move further from their living areas. The rational choice explains that humans make their decisions rationally to commit crimes.

On the other hand, criminal personality profiling defines the process of analyzing several aspects of violent crime to develop a combination of hypotheses about the characteristics of the unknown criminal (Davis, 1999). Several factors and precursor events are encountered in a violent crime, such as the plan, the crime scene, and the post-mortem and pre-mortem interval. However, personality profiling focuses on the type of criminal, the victim, the psychological patterns, and the expression of the individual performing the crime. Therefore, criminal personality profiling identifies and examines the restrained habits, psychological behaviors, and personality variables connected to criminal activity (McCann, 1992). These traits and variables are then used to develop behavioral and personality descriptors of a criminal who commits typically terrible crimes such as bombings, sex crimes, serial homicide, child abduction, bank robbery, to mention a few. However, there are other approaches to criminal profiling, such as investigative psychology, typological approach, and the clinical approach (Petherick, 2009). The investigative psychology approach combines the geographical and established psychological theories or methods and is analyzed to anticipate the criminal’s characteristics. The typological approach is based on the characteristics of the crime scene to classify criminals into different groups depending on their varying factors.

On the other hand, the clinical approach involves using clinical psychology and psychiatry to establish investigation in cases where the criminal is thought to be suffering from a psychological abnormality or a mental disorder. Concisely, the comparison of various approaches to criminal profiling shows that geographical and personality criminal profiling show differences in operation procedures. Such as geographical profiling concerns the relationship between the criminal and the surrounding locations, whereas personality profiling focuses on psychological characteristics and traits of the criminal with the crime. However, there is a similarity that both approaches rely on physical, behavioral, and non-physical information and highlight the connection of the crime scene, victims’ disposition, substantial items, and the offender’s behavior. The profilers then predict inferences concerning the motivation and the meaning of the set actions to achieve proper investigation. It is based on the predictions that the offender’s behavior at the crime scene repeats the personality, method, and character of committing the crime.


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