OFFENDER PROFILING: TOP-DOWN APPROACH (Typological Approach (Top-Down)…
OFFENDER PROFILING: TOP-DOWN APPROACH
Offender profiling is used to help find suspects. It involves forensic, physical and behavioural evidence.
The overall aim is to help the police narrow the field of investigation. The profiler is helping to put a personality to the offender and his/her motivations for committing the crime.
Typological Approach (Top-Down) Introduction
Douglas and Burgess (1986)
The aim of offender profiling is to "identify the major personality and behavioural characteristics of the offender based upon an analysis of the crimes he/she has committed.
The general purpose is to narrow down the range of suspects by providing a description of the offender in terms of age, family circumstances, education, occupation and interests.
The US approach (top-down profiling): early work by the FBI in the 1960s and 70s drew a distinction between organised offenders disorganised offenders. FBI researchers believe this distinction can be applied to all cases of sexually motivated crimes, including murders and some cases of arson.
The focus of the approach is to train expert profilers who use information from past serial offenders to build a picture of the suspect. This American approach is sometimes called the 'typological' approach and is designed to explain two types of murderers. These are organised and disorganised.
FBI Research 1978:
used in-depth interviews with convicted murderers; detailed information from behavioural science unit and classification system for several serious crimes (inc. rape and murder).
More than average IQ
Socially & sexually competent
Use of alcohol in crime, follows the crime on the news
Less than average IQ
Lives near crime, alcohol isn't used during crime
Doesn't follow crime on the news
Jackson and Berkerian (1997)
Described the FBI approach as having 4 stages:
Data assimilation: collection of available information.
Crime classification: crime into category based on data
Crime reconstruction: Developing a hypothesis about the victim and their habits
Pinizzotto and Finkel (1990):
used two closed police cases and compared the profiles produced by trained professionals, students with the FBI with no profile training and clinical psychologists. One case was a sex case, and a homicide. It was found that profilers were more accurate in the sex offence, but no significantly better than the untrained people for the homicide case.
profiling can be of some use, but in some cases it doesn't significantly help. Profilers are much more accurate in profiling sex offenders, however police were much better at profiling murderers.
suggested that the typological approach is based on an outdated view of personality which assumes the personality of the offender will be consistent across situations.