In the last decade the use of criminal profiling as a means to help detect and capture criminals has become more common place during many a criminal investigation. Indeed criminal profiling has also been recognised as one of the most useful techniques in offender profiling – a technique used to help define the behaviour of an offender before they reach the height of their criminal career.
How Does Criminal Profiling Work?
Criminal profiling works on the principle that each and every criminal – regardless of the level or severity of their crime – will work to a certain set of values. These values – or signatures – are as individual as your own handwritten signature and once identified can be used to help law enforcement make a positive identification. Profiling also takes in victimology.
What is victimology?
victimology is the study of the victims in a number of crimes perpetrated by the same criminal. The idea of victimology is to identify similarities between each of the victims of a particular crime so that the profiler may be able to identify a definite pattern in the criminal’s approach to his (or indeed her) crimes.
Victimology looks at age, lifestyle, similarities in hair colour and eye colour, whether the victims have met or worked together in the past, or if they share a common interest. All of this information can be used to help the profiler build up an accurate picture of the offender.
The Homicidal Triad
Profilers are also interested in what is referred to as the Homicidal Triad, three defining factors that may have bearing on am offender’s adulthood from events that have taken place in their childhood. This triad – or series of three events – normally takes the form of:
- Bed Wetting
- Animal Cruelty
- An Interest in Starting Fires
This triad of events which does often occur in a criminal’s childhood – especially if their crime is murder – is indicative of their desire to be in control and to experience an emotional or sexual release as the result of inflicting pain on others. Their desire to test this on animals before moving on to human beings is also well documented.
Predicting a Criminal’s Next Move
Profiling is also used as a means of attempting to – and in most cases succeeding – to predict the next move of a criminal who may be on what is commonly referred to as a ‘spree’. Offenders who are engaged in crime sprees often devolve from a lucid state of mind into a pathological state of frenzied criminality which can often result in assault or even murder. A profiler will try – where possible with the evidence already in hand – to predict what the offender may attempt to do next and may also try to communicate with them via the media.
It should be said however that the normal everyday existence of a criminal profiler is nowhere nearly as exciting as the lives of those portrayed on television. Profilers often spend a lot of their time working in conjunction with companies and large organisations offering psychological evaluations of their staff and this is most apparent among the variety of law enforcement agencies who are required to undergo evaluations on a regular basis.