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Describe psychological research on offender profiling and Evaluate psychological research on offender profiling.

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Introduction

Offender Profiling (model essay) a) Describe psychological research on offender profiling b) Evaluate psychological research on offender profiling c) Suggest how offender profiling can be used to help police officers in their enquiries (illustrate your answer using one case study on offender profiling) According to Holmes & Holmes (1996) there should be three main goals of offender profiling, these are to provide the police with basic information about the characteristics of the offender such as age, race, personality, employment and marital status, to suggest any possessions the offender may have that would associate him with the crime scene (such as souvenirs the police may want to search for) and to provide interviewing strategies and suggestions the police may use when questioning a suspect. The American approach to developing a profile of an offender has been developed from an initial sample of interviews with 36 convicted serial sexual murderers, combined with detailed information from crime scenes from members of the behavioural science unit. The FBI collated all this information and developed a classification system for serious offenders, where offenders are said to be either organised (crime planned, few clues left) or disorganised (unplanned haphazard crimes, randomly selected victims). ...read more.

Middle

It was also found that there are many different approaches in Britain and usefulness depended on the individual approach of the profiler. This study suggests that profiling is seen as useful even though it rarely results directly in the identification of an offender. A lab study by Pinizotto & Finkel (1990) compared the ability to write profiles of a homicide and a sexual offence of five groups, these were expert profilers, detectives with profiling experience, detectives without profiling experience, clinical psychologists and undergraduates. They used previously solved cases and provided all details of these to the profilers. They found that Profilers were more accurate than non-profilers on the sex offence but that detectives were more accurate on the homicide case. This study suggests that experience of an area may be more important in profiling a case than training on psychological profiling. b) In considering the evidence on offender profiling there are a number of issues raised that may lead us to question the effectiveness of offender profiling. The first issue is methodology, that is the methods used by psychologists to collect data. ...read more.

Conclusion

The fifth evaluation issue is usefulness, are the research findings useful and applicable in everyday life. The experiment by Pinizotto and Finkel is very useful as it suggests that experience may be a key factor in profiling and this should suggest that the best profilers for any case are those with experience in dealing with that kind of offence. In comparison the survey by Copson is very useful information as it shows that although the conviction rates directly from profilers were quite low Police officers involved do value the contributions profilers make in assisting with cases. c) One case study that clearly illustrates the British approach to offender profiling is that of Adrian Babb, convicted of raping elderly women. David Canter looks at 3 things when profiling a case and each of these areas is illustrated by the Babb case study. Firstly Canter looks at the selection and type of Victim and the way the victim is treated by the offender. Babb's victims ... Secondly Canter looks at the significance of time and place. The attacks by Babb all took place ... Thirdly Canter looks at the forensic awareness of the offender. In the case of Babb... ...read more.

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