What's in a Name? Comparing Applied Profiling Methodologies

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Criminal profiling is an investigative technique that has received a great deal of attention in recent decades, from both academic audiences and mainstream popular culture. It is lauded as an investigative tool and criticized as being tedious and of little use in police investigations. Criminal profiling in its most basic form is an attempt to discern offender characteristics from the crime scene and the behaviour of the offender. It is an inferential process that involves an analysis of offender behaviour including their interactions with the victim and crime scene, their choice of weapon and their use of language, among other things. Profiling is of most use in crimes where the offender displays evidence of psychopathology, such as rape, murder, torture and mutilation. However, "it is the behavioural characteristics of the perpetrator as evidenced in the crime scene and not the offense per se that determines the suitability of the case for profiling." Homant and Kennedy note that "profilers have also applied their efforts to distinguishing accidental, autoerotic asphyxiation from suicide or homicide to hostage negotiations to stalking, and even bank robbery-not all of which necessarily involve significant psychopathology."

Re-used with permission
© University of San Francisco, School of Law
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-188
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Law and Social Challenges
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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