Criminal Profiling...Unmasking
The Unknown Culprit.

Criminal Profiling is a process used to try and piece together the psychological, behavioral, and social composite of an unknown criminal.

The process involves law enforcement officers often assisted by criminal psychologists, and has 3 aims:

1. To provide a psychological, behavioral, and social composite of an unknown criminal.

2. To give police a "psychological evaluation of belongings found in the possession of the offender" (Holmes & Holmes, 2008).

3. To outline strategies and suggestions how best to interview the offender once caught.

Learning to Profile Criminals.

The first form of Criminal Investigative Analysis (of which Criminal Profiling is a part) emerged in the 19th century and was pioneered by the British Scotland Yard.

crime scene

The legendary investigative feats of Sherlock Holmes then strengthened the myth that clever criminal investigators are born with the skill and did not acquire it. However, criminal psychologist Brent Turvey in his authoritative book "Criminal Profiling" was adamant that the ability to Profile Criminals was a not an intuitive gift, but a systematic process that could be taught to law enforcement officers.

Modern day Criminal Investigative Analysis was developed primarily by the FBI in the middle of the 20th century involving into a new, sophisticated science (although some still argue it is more an art than a science).

The FBI model (taught by the International Criminal Investigative Fellowship) tends to be practised primarily by police officers, while the British Centre Of Investigative Psychology in Liverpool is based more on the insights of academic psychology (ref: Dr Chris Devery, 2009).

This new crime-busting science has caught the public's imagination and spawned a string of popular (although not always accurate) TV shows, books and movies like CSI, Profiler, and Silence of the Lambs.

CSI the TV Show:

Anatomy of a Real Investigation by the Calgary Police.
Published July 18, 2012

Questions Criminal Profilers Might Ask:

  • Was the offender organized or disorganized?

    A disorganized criminal is more likely to use a weapon of opportunity that happens to be lying around, whereas an organized offender will bring a weapon along to the crime scene and to take it away afterwards.

    workplace safety man gun An organized criminal is cunning and methodical, generally leaving less physical evidence behind; and may have planned for the disposal of a body more carefully (including dismemberment to hinder ID).

    An organized offender is also more likely to live some distance from the scene of the crime; seek out his victim by cruising around; be a loner; and closely monitor police efforts to track him down.

  • Can a particularly sadistic or brutal crime, and the MO (Modus Operandi...Method of Approach, Method of Attack, Method of Control) provide some clue as to an addiction to violence, sexual psycho-pathologies, or some distinguishing pattern?

  • Does the crime scene location and geography (e.g. isolated outdoors), the time and day of the week, time of year, give a clue to the offender's work habits, lifestyle, or if living alone?

  • What was it about the victim that may have attracted the offender... age, sex, race, religion, physical condition, vulnerability, occupation (e.g. sex worker)?

  • Do things done or left at the crime scene provide any insight to the criminal's emotional, mental or personality characteristics, age, or level of intelligence?

  • Might the use of violence and methods used to subject the victim to terror, humiliation, submission, suffering or death give some indication of the offender's possible childhood or up-bringing? Might the offender have suffered fear, and abuse as a child, or been raised under harsh and deprived circumstances?

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