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Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of psychological (offender) profiling.

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  • Essay length: 3318 words
  • Submitted: 07/04/2004
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University Degree Criminal law

The first 200 words of this essay...

Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of psychological (offender) profiling

Introduction

Psychological profiling has been described as an investigative technique meant to be used to aid in solving particularly unusual cases. It is essentially felt to be an art, rather than a scientific pursuit (McCann, 1992), used to draw psychological conclusions from the material evidence left behind at a crime scene. The guiding theoretical base behind this increasingly popular but controversial tool is largely from the psychological literature.

Although its origins can be traced as far back as the Bible, the professional development of profiling is most likely to be attributed to the work of the Behavioural Sciences Unit (BSU) at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

The work of Dr. Thomas Bond (1880s) following his autopsy on the last of Jack the Ripper's victims, the psychological profile of Adolf Hitler by Walter Langer during World War II and James Brussels' highly accurate sketch of the 'Mad Bomber of New York' (and the 'Boston Strangler') are all well-known and highly successful examples of this technique.

The profile is generated based upon what can be termed a psychological assessment of the crime scene (Ault & Reese,

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