Canterbury Christ Church University
Department of Law and Criminal Justice Studies
MA Criminology and Criminal Justice
Criminal Investigation: Principals and Concepts
Module Code: MCJTH4CCP
Level 7 Module
To what extent does psychological profiling assist criminal investigations and avoid miscarriages of justice?
Monday, 25 November 2013
The American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), lay claim to creating offender profiling and although there is no universally agreed definition (Snook et al., 2007:439), the fundamental idea is the same throughout. Profiling aims to offer the probable description of a likely offender, after an analysis of a crime scene, the victims and the evidence available. Dwyer describes it as "one of the most controversial and misunderstood areas of criminal detection" (2001:47), and it is agreed that profiling does not solve crimes, but narrows down the range of potential suspects (Dwyer, 2001:49; Ainsworth, 2013:8). Due to the definition being so broad, it is also relevant to note that "not all claims are equal" and there are factors within profiling that are "unverifiable" and "open to misinterpretation" (Alison et al.,
Broadly speaking there are two types of offender profiling; the geographical profiling and psychological profiling (Muller, 2000:235). This paper will be split into four parts and focus on psychological profiling throughout in order to give a more in depth analysis. The first part of this paper will give a brief analysis of psychological profiling and review the concerned literature, whilst explaining the effects that profiling has on miscarriages of justice. The second part will look at the ways the psychological profiling helps to avoid miscarriages of justice. However, due to the shortage of literature, the paper will evaluate a number of relevant cases. The third part of this paper proposes suggestions for future research; it will then summarise and conclude.