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The Role of Offender Profiling

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Lois Rolfe

on 2 December 2014

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Transcript of The Role of Offender Profiling

Four Stages of FBI Offender profiling
Thank you

Are there any questions?

Evaluation of the Investigative Approach
Offender profiling is “a technique whereby the probable characteristics of a criminal offender or offenders are predicted based on the behaviours exhibited in the commission of the crime” (Kocsis, 2006 pp.1).
What is Offender Profiling?

FBI Approach

Dutch Approach

Investigative Approach

Geographical Approach

Ainsworth, P. (2001). ‘Offender Profiling and Crime Analysis’ New York: Willan Publishing.

Almond, A. (2013). Division of Forensic Psychology. [Online] Available from: https://www.liv.ac.uk/psychology-health-and-society/research/psychological-sciences/professional-identities/forensic-psychology/. [Accessed 1 December 2014].

Canter, D. (2000). ‘Offender Profiling and Psychological Differentiation.’ Journal of Criminal and Legal Psychology. 5: 23-46.

Canter, D. (2004). ‘Offender Profiling and Investigative Psychology.’ Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling. 1: 1-15.

Canter, D. (2012). Offender Profiles. [Online] Available from: http://www.davidcanter.com/professional-services/offender-profiles/. [Last accessed 06 December 2014].

Caulfield, L. & Wilkinson, D. (2014). ‘Forensic Psychology’. Harlow: Pearson.

Douglas, J.E., Ressler, R.K., Burgess, AW., and Hartman, C.R. (1986) ‘Criminal profiling from crime scene analysis’. Behavioural Sciences and the Law, 4 (4): 401-421.

Egger, S.A. (1999). ‘Psychological Profiling Past, Present, and Future’. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice. 15 (3), 241-261.

Fernandez, M., Baker, A. (2011) ‘Bright, Careful and Sadistic: Profiling Long Island’s Mystery Serial Killer’. New York Times. 21 April. [Online] Available from: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/22/nyregion/long-island-serial-killer-gets-a-personality-profile.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&# [Accessed 21 November 2014].

Geberth, V.J. (1983). ‘Practical homicide investigation: Tactics, procedures and forensic techniques. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Gekoski, A., Gray, J. (2011) ‘It may be true, but how’s it helping?: UK police detectives’ views of the operational usefulness of offender profiling’. International Journal of Police Science and Management, 13 (2): 103-116.

Godwin, M. (2002) ‘Reliability, Validity, and utility of Criminal Profiling Typologies’. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology. 17 (1): 1-18.

Gough, D. (2012). Institute of Criminal Justice Studies. [Online] Available from: http://www.port.ac.uk/institute-of-criminal-justice-studies/staff/mr-dennis-gough.html [Accessed 14 November 2014].

Guillen, M., Lareu, M.V., Salas, A. & Carracedo, A. (2006). ‘Ethical-legal problems of DNA databases in criminal investigation’. J Med Ethics. 26 (4): 266-271.

Harcourt, B.E. (1965). The Shaping of Chance: Actuarial Models and Criminal Profiling at the Turn

of the Twenty-First Century. The University of Chicago Law Review. 70 (1): 105-128.

Hickey, E. (2003). The encyclopaedia of murder and violent crime. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kocsis, R.N. (2006). ‘What is Criminal Profiling?’ New York City: Humana Press. Pp. 1-11.

O'Connor, T. (2012). The Future of Profiling. [Online] Available from: http://www.drtomoconnor.com/4050/4050lect08b.htm. [Accessed 28 October 2014].

Petherick, W. A. (2006) ‘Geographic Profiling: The Devil is in the Distance’, Journal of Behavioral Profiling, 6 (1).

Profilerpatbrown. (2011) Criminal Profiler Pat Brown discusses the Long Island serial killer with Joy Behar, [online video] Available from: [Accessed 21 November 2014].

Ressler, R.K., Burgess, A.W., and Douglas, J.E. (1998) Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives. Lexington: Lexington Books.

Roach, J. &Shepherd, A. (2013). Long Interval Detections and Under the Radar Offenders. [Online] Available from: http://www.hud.ac.uk/research/researchcentres/acc/projects/long-interval-detections-and-offenders]. [Accessed 30 November 2014].

Santilla, P., Hakkanen, H., Canter, D. & Elfgren, T. (2003). ‘Classifying homicide offenders and predicting their characteristics from crime scene behaviour.’ Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. 44: pp. 107-118.

Stranojoska, A. (2014). How a cyber criminal does look like[sic]? [Online]Available from: http://www.academia.edu/2163839/How_a_does_a_cybercriminal_does_look_like_Building_a_profile_of_modern_criminals. [Accessed 15 November 2014].

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Approaches to Offender Profiling
Geographical Approach
Investigative Approach
A Brief History of Offender Profiling
Offender profiling as we know it today has a relatively short history.

The case of Jack the Ripper – although this case was never solved, the attempts to find the offender led to advances in offender profiling.

George Metesky – the first my well known case where the use of offender profiling led to a successful arrest of the long hunted New York bomber.
The Role of
Offender Profiling

Gekoski and Gray (2011) conducted interviews and found that some police officers were very cynical of profiling, many only using it because they think they’d be criticised for not using it.
Criminal Profiling and Police Officers
FBI Approach
Petherick (2006) has aided geographical profiling massively

Egger (1999) “allow[s] decoding of narrative documents”.

Cybercrime. Stanojoska (2011) “when a profiler uses profiling as one of the methods in solving a case, it is always better to have the opportunity to see the crime scene, to find the evidence, the traces that sometimes the criminals leave [..]”
Computer Technology and Crime
DNA databases make offender profiling obsolete?

Ethical issues?

Cost effective? Possibility of false matches?
The Pros and Cons of DNA databases?
Long Island Killer: A case study: NYPD Detective-“killer has a type […but this could change]”.
Criminal Profiler -
“sexual sadist”.
an organized killer
“an active or former law enforcement officer”

Purpose? For the sake of it/desire to kill

“a sadist because “He likes the suffering of others, and he really likes it when he can cause it or witness it.”

“He did not stumble upon that location”
A Mixture of the Two Techniques?
University Research
University of Huddersfield: ‘Long Interval Detections and Under the Radar Offenders’ Project

University of Portsmouth-focusing on vulnerable groups and offending
Dutch Approach
Federal Bureau of Investigation
An investigative tool that was developed in 1980, from examining the geographical locations of a series of crimes leading to the offenders possible area of residence (Canter and Youngs, 2008).
The location of offenders homes have a tendency to be within the boundaries laid out by the locations of the crime (Canter, Coffey, Huntley and Missen, 2000)

Less serious crimes: typically offenders travel less than 3 miles from their own homes to carry out less serious crimes such as robbery (Rhodes and Conly, 1981)

Serious or serial crimes: a mean of 46km travelled in the US (Canter et al, 2000), and a mean of 23km travelled for serial rapists in the US (Warren et al, 1998).

It is not aimed at identifying an ‘X marks the spot’ location but to decide on which areas to prioritize in the search.
What is Geographical Profiling?
Kind (1978) is thought to be the first to incorporate geographic location models into an ongoing investigation. “the origins of present day geographical profiling” (Canter, 2004).

Geographic profiling, however, didn’t lead to Sutcliffe’s capture.

Case study of Rafael Resendez- Ramirez, the Railroad Killer; police agencies in three states noted that a series of murders had taken place near railroads. The geographical similarities helped to rapidly link him to successive crimes.
“it focuses is on the location of crime scenes, the spatial relationship between them and how they relate to the offenders area of residence.” (Rossmo, 1997)

Canter and Youngs (2007) developed a four key principles about criminal behaviour:
-systematic crime location choice,
-comparative case analysis

Canter also suggested that there are two types of offender:
1) Marauder
2) Commuter

First piece of software, called RIGEL, was created by Kim D. Rossmo.

DRAGNET is another example of the type of software that has been developed by Canter in order to assist the mapping of crimes and the possible location of the offender’s home or base.

Geographical Profiling Software
Key Principles and Types of Offender
The First Use of Geographical Profiling
The Main Aims of Geographical Profiling
Future of Offender Profiling
An adaption of the FBI approach in the Netherlands, where there was an increased recognition of the role that crime analysis might play in the detection of crime.

Based on two basic principles:
1) Offender Profiling is a combination of detective experience and behavioural scientific knowledge
2) An offender profile is not an end in itself, but is purely an instrument for steering an investigation in a particular direction
(Jackson et al, 1997 cited in Ainsworth, 2001)

Profilers published their results allowing it to be assessed by the public and scientific community, something which the FBI approach does not consider.
The FBI approach utilises top-down processes, which relies heavily on the experience and intuition of offender profilers. Here they use crime scene evidence to attempt to develop the profile of a likely offender.

The start of the FBI approach occurred due to the increase of murders; as a result interviews with 36 offenders were conducted by Robert Ressler and colleagues in order to attempt to provide classifications which could aid the police in future investigations. (Ressler et al, 1998)

The FBI approach consisted of a four stage process when creating an offender profile...
Data Assimilation: identifying a signature
Stage 2:
Crime Scene Classification: organised/disorganised offender
Stage 3:
Crime Scene Reconstruction
Stage 4:
Profile Generation: Predictions about the individual
Caulfield, L., and Wilkinson, D. (2014) Forensic Psychology. United Kingdom: Pearson.
Stage 1:
The origins of this approach has helped the development of Geographic Profiling due to the initial research into sexual assault.

It can help to identify key characteristics with the help of statistical patterns
Even though offender profiling can be used on less serious crimes, in reality police work is much more commonly used. It is only in more difficult cases where it is used to help find the perpetrator.
There have been cases of miss-conviction such as the case of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common
Evaluation of the FBI Approach
A small sample of 36 murderers were used in the original interviews, where they concluded their results and there is reason to believe the typology might not be generalizable to the full population of serial murderers.
Busch and Cavanaugh (1986) concluded that organized/disorganised serial murder typologies are weak because they were descriptive- not scientific.
Mokros and Alison (2002)- tested the homology of characteristics of offenders with their crime scene actions, on 100 British male stranger rapists. No positive linear relationship for any of the comparisons between offenders. For example, rapists who offended in a similar way were not similar in terms of their individual features, such as age, ethnicity, employment etc. Suggests that the FBI approach is too simplistic/reductionist.
From these interviews, Ressler et al (1988) empathized mostly on stage 2 of the FBI approach, between organized and disorganized offenders. Godwin (2002) suggests that these classifications were created when motives of a crime were lacking.

Instead, the FBI approach looked for evidence of planning and irrationality at the crime scene, which concluded an offender to be either organized or disorganized.

Not only that, this typology was based on exposure to the victims sexual parts, the appearance of the victims attire or nudity, insertion of objects in bodily cavities and evidence of sexual intercourse.
Organized and Disorganized Offenders
Organized Offender Typology
Assumed to be cunning, who plans their murders
This “planning” is expressed in their preoccupation with, and constant need for control, which is mirrored through the crime scene (Hickey, 1997)
Described as positively anti social
The murder is often planned
Symbolic similarities of the victim
Forensically aware
Theories of aggression
Disorganized Offender Typology
Crime scene reflects uncontrollable sexual desires
Sexual substitution
No forensic awareness- weapons left at the scene
Lack of preparation
Victim depersonalisation
Low intelligence, Socially withdrawn
Lives near the crime scene with a poor work/education history
According to the FBI classification (from Godwin (2002))
Hickey, E. (1997) Serial Murderers and their victims. 2nd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
According to the FBI classification (from Godwin (2002))
The Mixed Offender Typology
It has rarely been considered that an offender can have a “mixed crime scene” classification, which includes characteristics from both an organized and disorganized offender (Douglas et al, 1986).

For example, this could occur when an offender plans out their murder (organized offender characteristic, however when this does not go to plan, characteristics of a disorganized offender will start to appear.
Douglas, J.E., Ressler, R.K., Burgess, AW.., and Hartman, C.R. (1986) ‘Criminal profiling from crime scene analysis’. Behavioural Sciences and the Law, 4 (4): 401-421.
Suggested to have no theoretical basis for some of the claims- Wilson et al (1997) suggests that the FBI approach simply reduces human behaviour to a few observable parameters which lead to characteristics of the unknown offender.
This approach is suggested to not be scientific which highlights the ongoing debate of whether Offender Profiling in general is an Art or a Science?
Mokros, A. And Alison, L. (2002) ‘Is offender profiling possible? Testing the predicted homology of crime scene actions and background characteristics in a sample of rapists’. Legal and Criminological Psychology. 7 (1): 23-43.

Wilson, P., Lincoln, R., and Kocsis, R. (1997) ‘Validity, utility and ethics of profiling for serial violent and sexual offenders’. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law. 4 (1): 1-11.
Offender profiling is “a forensic technique which seeks to provide investigative agencies with specific information which will help focus attention on individuals with personality traits that parallel traits of other perpetrators who have committed similar offenses” (Kocsis, 2006 pp.1).
Kocsis, R.N. (2006). ‘What is Criminal Profiling?’ New York City: Humana Press. Pp. 1-11.
Offender profiling is the “process of identifying personality traits, behavioural tendencies, geographic locations and demographic or biological descriptors of an offender based on characteristics of the crime.”
Geberth, V.J. (1983). ‘Practical homicide investigation: Tactics, procedures and forensic techniques. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Hickey, E. (2003). The encyclopedia of murder and violent crime. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Ressler, R.K., Burgess, A.W., and Douglas, J.E. (1998) Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives. Lexington: Lexington Books.
Godwin, M. (2002) ‘Reliability, Validity, and utility of Criminal Profiling Typologies’. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology. 17 (1): 1-18.
For example: Ressler et al.
For example: New York Bomber
This method of profiling is concentrated on empirical research and logical inference as opposed to investigative experience
The investigative approach stresses profiling should intend to identify the extent to which an offender displays various tested characteristics (Canter, 2004).
Its considered a more reliable and scientific approach, in comparison to other offender profiling techniques used by the FBI which ‘think like the criminal’
Canter pioneered investigative psychology in UK.
The first use in the UK was when he helped police on the 1985 Railway Rapist investigation, and ultimately led to the arrest of John Duffy.
Canter used details of the crime to produce a profile of the possible offender’s personality, lifestyle and mannerisms.
He described the central aim of offender profiling as ‘determining behaviourally important and empirically supported information regarding the consistency and variability of the behaviour of serial murderers.
It is also important to establish valid and reliable methods of distinguishing between offenders and between offenses’ (Canter, 2004)
David Canter
Multi-Dimensional Scaling
Multi-dimensional scaling is a statistical technique used in offender profiling. Salfati & Canter (1999) believe that it ‘provides support for theoretical distinctions between homicide offenders as either instrumental or expressive in use of aggression.’

This technique has also expanded upon the original theoretical distinction ‘by identifying sub-themes of aggressive action which can be used to further discriminate amongst offenders’ Santilla, Hakkanen, Canter & Elfgren, 2003.

These themes are useful to investigations as they are also linked to characteristics and post-offense behaviours of offenders.
They also have been linked to background characteristics and post-offense behaviours, demonstrating their usefulness to the investigation of serial murder cases (Santilla et al., 2003).
The Investigative Approach is more scientific and is not based on intuition.

It can be applied to a wider range of crimes such as arson and burglary.

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