Criminal profiling is a tool used by law enforcement agencies to help solve crimes. The purpose is not to identify a specific individual who is the likely offender, but to narrow down a pool of suspects by determining certain characteristics the offender is likely to have. The profile helps law enforcement agencies track down a suspect, or is released to the public to enlist help with determining the identity of the offender.
Geographic profiling uses an offender's past crimes to predict his location. Ideally, profilers need five crimes to create an accurate geographic profile. The different locations of these crimes help investigators narrow down a particular geographic area where the offender may be located. This area may include the offender’s home or work address, his regular travel route or places he frequents for entertainment and recreation.
Read More: Facts About Criminal Profiling
Investigative psychology uses peer-reviewed research to determine facts about an offender based upon her past crimes. Psychologists work as profilers, basing their findings on published research. Some psychologists feel that utilizing true psychological techniques is the only way to create an accurate and scientifically sound criminal profile.
Criminal Investigative Analysis
Also called crime scene analysis, criminal investigative analysis was established by the FBI. Profilers identify criminals' behavioral patterns and create groups based on like behaviors. This method has come under fire from psychologists because it does not rely on peer-reviewed research or recognize distinct differences in individual behaviors.
Behavioral Evidence Analysis
Behavioral evidence analysis examines evidence that can show how and when an action has taken place. This may be in the form of physical evidence at a crime scene, such as footprints or blood stains. Crime scene evidence helps establish behavior patterns and character traits of an offender, which helps investigators to build a criminal profile.
- Crime Laboratory: The Art of Forensic Psychology
- "Criminal Profiling, Third Edition: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis"; Brent E. Turvey; 2008
- American Psychological Association: Criminal Profiling - The Reality Behind the Myth
- International Academy for Investigative Psychology: Offender Profiling and Criminal Differentiation
- European Association of Psychology and Law: Fact Sheet - Criminal Profiling
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: Criminal Profiling
Lissabeth Ross began her career in journalism in 2005 as a staff writer for the "Journal of the Pocono Plateau." In addition to writing for several different newspapers, she served as the editor of the travel publication "News of The Poconos." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Rutgers University.