Criminal profiling: fact or fiction

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Criminology uses criminal profiling as a unique tool that creates a psychological portrait based on the offender’s information available relating to the crime (Sutton, Cherney&White, 2013). Criminal profiling highlights the behavior, personal and environmental traits that will help to narrow down the list of suspects in a particular crime setting. Other attributes considered during profiling include the weapon used and the victim’s testimony.  This concept has been utilized for both academic and entertainment purposes in the recent times. It becomes easy for police officers and other legislative bodies to get hold of an offender using criminal profiling. Criminal profiling is a series of processes that lead to the required output. For instance, all the combined evidence is used against various personalities to come up with an apt description of the criminal (Ainsworth, 2013). It is conducted based on the nature and type of crime committed. Debates on whether criminal profiling is a fact or fiction have occurred globally. Critics will often dismiss the arguments by stating the creating a criminal profile will require more than common sense and a lot of work to generate the desired and satisfactory picture of the victim. On the other hand, supporters have often based it on a scientific and psychological perspective. Criminology is a broad subject that cannot be covered without inputs relating to criminal profiling. It has been a strong concept that has enabled the police officers and other legislative agencies to capture the most wanted criminals globally.  The intention of this research is to show how criminal profiling is a fact as opposed to the perceived fiction concept. This will be attained by considering the historical background of the concept, its psychological basis, the integrated structure and models used, application in the legislative context, adopted training and education programs about criminal profiling.

Every concept that is used as a foundation for a particular selected perspective often has a historical background. The historical background of criminal profiling has been dated from 1969. It was later advanced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The roots of criminal profiling have been linked with the case in England committed by Jack the Ripper(Ainsworth, 2013). He committed a series of crimes and the profile created and used help to close the investigation. During the World War II, various allied forces were intrigued by the profiling concept. For instance, they tried creating Adolf Hitler’s profile (Ainsworth, 2013). Successful cases of criminal profiling provided confidence for other parties to apply the idea to the investigation. They cover different crimes such as sexual homicide, hostage cases, serial killers and anonymous letter writers or stalkers among others. These techniques were applied to suit various types of crime which generated a positive result.  This formed a base that would also be implemented by law enforcement agencies in a crime investigation process.

Most law enforcement agencies consider criminal profiling as a valuable tool during a crime investigation. Various forms of profiling have been used to match the crime to the proprietor. Most judicial systems will consider inputs from experts before giving a ruling. Input from forensic experts is based on criminal profiling. They help to create a correlation between the suspect’s traits and the criminal activity committed. This enables legislative bodies to make a viable decision that will be for the affected parties. The traits used to come up with a profile could be group based. Legal agencies have used group traits in different cases to solve a case. For instance, racial profiling is a common concept that has led to controversial issues in societies. Police officers will often take action if they associate an individual with a race that is likely to commit the crime. Racial profiling has often influenced legislative decisions on issues relating to the anti-terrorism policy (Ford, 2014). This concept has not only helped in solving several terrorism crimes but also preventing them. Law enforcement bodies also often use criminal psychological profiling. In such instances, a psychological assessment of the criminal is conducted to establish any connections with the crime committed. A viable psychological and criminal profiling can be presented as evidence in a court of law. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an example of a law enforcement body that has continuously used criminal profiling to solve different cases. The application of the concept by various organs that contribute to the legislative set up of the country proves that it is factual.

The education system in every nation helps to establish a basis of employment regarding acquired skills and knowledge. At first, criminology was not offered as a course in most higher education institutions. The number of schools offering criminology which falls under the social sciences was limited. However, modernization, increased criminal cases and the need to curb them led to the prioritization of the science in the most learning institution. During employment, forensic experts are selected based on their skills, knowledge, and experience (Chifflet, 2015). They have to be conversant with the crime and criminal culture. These requirements help in creating a competent team that will assist in establishing viable decisions based on what has been taught on criminal profiling. Profiling is among the many branches in criminology introduced to learners. They are trained to conduct criminal and psychological profiling by doing an approved assessment procedure. Recent changes in security issues have led to the establishment of a revised syllabus that leads to updated reviews in investigations. There is a set of guidelines that is used to establish if the information put forward by a forensic expert is viable or not. Police officers and members of the legislative bodies such as FBI undergo training and learning programs that will help them to create a strong criminal profile thus catching the offender or mitigating the crime risk (Chifflet, 2015). Other attributes required to deduce profiles include diligence and aptitude to query presumptions and assumptions.  Approval of various education and training programs in learning institutions is evidence that criminal profiling is an important concept that has been approved based on facts.

The structure of criminal profiling is characterized by six stages (Alison, 2013). This provides an approved basis of approving that should be followed. The first stage is profiling inputs that involve collection of significant information from the crime scene. This could be through photography at the crime scene, interview of the victims and the preliminary report by the authorities in charge. The latter is the decision process models. At this level, the collected information from the crime scene should be well organized and a preliminary analysis conducted. At this point, the type of crime committed is defined. The third stage is crime assessment. Here, criminal profiling is the primary objective. The involved parties try to reconstruct the offense as per the profiler. This may either be organized or disorganized until motive of the perceived criminal is established. The criminal profile stage follows with the aim of constructing a profile. Information that would help to come up with the profile is collected. This could be attained by comparing the crime scene with others to come up with common features. The data included in the profile may consist of race, appearance, age, gender, education background, relationship status, and occupation (Ford, 2014). The investigation then takes place based on the created profile and evidence collected by the chosen law enforcement agency. A written report is presented to the body to help with the investigations. Apprehension comes last indicating the results of the investigation. The profile is considered successful if the profiler is caught. Also, the profiling process is assessed to make amendments that would lead to more accurate profiles in future.

Moreover, the structure used in criminal profiling includes two models which are inductive and deductive (Alison, 2013). The first model is based on an inductive logic. This will involve considerations of the available data in the criminal’s database to generate a profile. On the other hand, the deductive model the case at hand is analyzed and profile are deduced. It uses the deduction logic. These models highlight the importance of profiling as it helps to narrow down the number of suspects and ensure efficient allocation of investigative resources. Establishment of a systematic structure indicates that criminal profiling is organized and based on a tested process and models. This helps in attaining accuracy during profiling leading to a successful investigation.

Criminal profiling is a scientific concept that is based on psychology (Alison, 2013). Over the years, psychology has been used to resolve copious intricacies in the society. This has led to the approval of the discipline in most institutions and establishment of a psychology association that governs different practitioners across the globe. Psychological profiling for criminals dates back to the 19th century which was aided by James Brussels, a psychiatrist-criminologist (Alison, 2013). It has been proved by psychological experts that it is easy to acquire a psychological deposition from a crime scene irrespective of the organization on the scene. Forensic experts can conduct a psychological study to determine the accurate trait depositions of an offender. Various legislation agents such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation have used psychological profiling to identify some of the suspects in significant investigative cases. It is important to ensure that the psychological mind of the criminal is well defined before and after the crime to establish an accurate profile. For example, if a criminal took an object from the crime scene, a trait would be allocated thus helping to come up with a viable social deposition that would assist in the case. Therefore, it is secure to ascertain that criminal profiling is factually based on a psychological perspective which is often used in the society to solve various problems.


Criminal profiling has proved to be a resource investigation tool over the years from various law enforcement agencies. Despite the controversies of whether the concept is fictional or not, there have been hundreds of cases that have been solved globally using criminal profiling. The pros of using this approach during an investigation process are evident from the research thus providing confidence to use the approach. Different nations have used different methods in criminal profiling to combat terrorism and crime. Similar to the many elements of the economy that are subjected to change, so is criminal profiling. Technological advancements will contribute to updates that will lead to the generation of accurate and efficient profiles to combat crime (Sutton, Cherney&White, 2013). The updates will make the models more useful and faster to use. This will boost the performance of law enforcement bodies. These reforms are also likely to be effected in the education and training programs. This will provide a competitive platform for security agents to accomplish their goals. Foreign interactions among countries will also provide an opportunity for criminology to thrive as a discipline thus leading the influence of investigative and security policies used. This will not only help to reduce crime on a national level but also globally.

Did you like this sample?
  1. Ainsworth, P. (2013). Offender Profiling Crime Analysis. Willan.
  2. Alison, L. (2013). Forensic Psychologists Casebook: Psychological Profiling and Criminal Investigation. Routledge.
  3. Chifflet, P. (2015). Questioning the validity of criminal profiling: an evidence-based approach. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 48(2), 238-255.
  4. Ford, D. E. (2014). The Psychology of Racial Profiling What is the Experience of Black Men Relative to Criminal Stereotypes? Michigan School of Professional Psychology.
  5. Sutton, A., Cherney, A., & White, R. (2013). Crime prevention: principles, perspectives and practices. Cambridge University Press.
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