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To What Extent Does Psychological Profiling Assist Criminal Investigations And Avoid Miscarriages Of Justice?

2895 words - 12 pages

Canterbury Christ Church UniversityDepartment of Law and Criminal Justice StudiesMA Criminology and Criminal JusticeCriminal Investigation: Principals and ConceptsModule Code: MCJTH4CCPLevel 7 ModuleAssignment 1To what extent does psychological profiling assist criminal investigations and avoid miscarriages of justice?Jenny LoveMonday, 25 November 2013The 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 ...view middle of the document...

Psychological profiling is one of the key aspects within criminal investigation and its prevalence has increased over the last 30 years (Snook et al., 2007:437). Controversy about the different types of psychological profiling has remained unabated for years (Ainsworth, 2002:143) and it is only over the past decade that research has developed more reliable profiling methods that justifies the recent increased frequency in profiling use (Alison et al., 2007:497).Although offender profiling has its advantages such as predicting the vulnerability or risk of an offender, thus saving the criminal justice time and money, the disadvantages are two-fold (see: Meehl, 1954). The criminal justice system is naive in when it comes to profiling (Alison et al., 2002:115, Alison et al., 2007:497), not taking into account the variations of individuals which seemingly do not correlate with socio demographic features (Alison et al., 2007:499). Alison and Ogan (2006, cited in Alison et al., 2007:498) argue this and suggest that human behaviour should not be categorised and go on to propose a more dimensional outlook, describing a range of levels. Their research takes into account maturity levels of the individual by discussing ages, intelligence levels, and socio economic groups. Canter et al. (2004:312) research further supplements this, in their study concerning the typology of serial murderers, and they conclude that the majority of examples contained both elements of 'disorganised' and 'organised'. However, any profiling of this type still needs consistency for it to work and this is assumed, throughout all types of profiling. Although contentious, (Alison et al., 2007:499) 'homology' delves further into the personality characteristics of an offender, and explains that two similar crime scenes that would be linked with other types of profiling could in fact be two different offenders with similar personalities. This however, also has downfalls, in its assumption that a particular personality will behave in a particular way. There are a number of studies that have consistently failed to find a relationship in any of the traditional methods that have been described above, for example Beauregard's sexual polymorphism study (2010:2). It is also valuable to note the frequency of the word 'assume' or 'assumption' in the concerned literature, since as it has already been mentioned that investigators are naive, and it could be concluded that offender profiling is taken for granted as being accurate. This in itself could lead to miscarriages of justice.Alison et al. (2002:122) state two key assumptions made by profilers; consistency and homology of offense behaviours, both which could achieve a miscarriage of justice. Studies show (Alison et al., 2002:124), that contextual features must be taken into account when profiling due to individuals behaviours varying in different environments, or having had a change in circumstances. Ainsworth states a similar notion,...

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