Qualitative Approaches to Criminal Profiling as Ways of Reducing Uncertainty in Criminal Investigations

Damon Muller

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    Criminal profiling is a tool to reduce the uncertainty when identifying an offender in difficult to solve crimes. There are, however, unresolved questions as to whether criminal profiling is an appropriate tool for evidence-based policing. Potential offender characteristics tend to be expressed in criminal profiles through vague verbal expressions of uncertainty which may lead to investigators misinterpreting the claims and investigations being misled. This vagueness of expression also makes it difficult to empirically verify the effectiveness of criminal profiles. This article discusses alternative approaches to profiling based on analyses of police data and of criminological and forensic psychological studies that allow claims to be expressed in terms that are less open to subjective interpretation and which allow the accuracy of the profile to be assessed. Also discussed are the implications and limitations of a more evidence-based approach to criminal profiling.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)33-40
    JournalPolicing: A Journal of Policy and Practice
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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