Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Consultant psychologist Dr Craig Jackson has reignited the debate over the utility and effectiveness of criminal profiling.
Jackson argues that criminal profiling is unscientific and potentially harmful adding that "Behavioural profiling has never led to the direct apprehension of a serial killer or murderer, so it seems to have no real-world value." Dr. Jackson's views have received considerable press coverage (see following links).
To be honest, there is nothing new in this type of criticism, particularly of the criminal profiling methodology developed by the FBI. In 2007 Malcolm Gladwell wrote a provocative article on criminal profiling entitled "Dangerous Minds" that appeared in the New Yorker. The article documents the historical roots of criminal profiling, beginning with the pioneering work of psychiatrist James Brussel and how the work of Brussel influenced FBI profiling. The article then presents a critical review of the work of prominent FBI profilers such as John Douglas; a review that clearly questions the usefulness of criminal profiling as an investigative methodology.
See following link to read Gladwell's article on criminal profiling in full.
Learn About Criminal Profiling
A good way of enagaing with this debate is to learn more criminal profiling and there are plenty of opportunites to do just that over at the All About Forensic Psychology Website.
Criminal Profiling (First Documented Use)
Criminal Profiling (The FBI Legacy)
Criminal Profiling (Methodology)
Criminal Profiling (A Realistic career aspiration?)
In the early 1970s, Special Agent Howard Teten and others in the FBI began to apply the insights of psychological science to violent criminal behavior. In 1972, the FBI Academy launched a Behavioral Science Unit—later called the Behavioral Analysis Unit—which began looking for patterns in the behavior of serial rapists and killers. Agents John Douglas and Robert Ressler conducted systematic interviews of serial killers like John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, and Jeffrey Dahmer to gain insight into their modus operandi, motivations, and backgrounds. This collected information helped agents draw up profiles of violent criminals eluding law enforcement.
By the 1980s, the concept of criminal investigative analysis was maturing into a full-fledged investigative tool for identifying criminals and their future actions by studying their behaviors, personalities, and physical traits. Accordingly, in July 1984, the Bureau opened the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) on the campus of the FBI Academy to provide sophisticated criminal profiling services to state and local police for the first time.
The aim of Inside the Criminal Mind: A Forensic Psychology eBook Collection Special is to showcase all the major articles written by members of the Behavioral Science Units, National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, at the FBI Academy. The articles added to the collection so far are:
Read Criminal Profiling : A Viable Investigative Tool Against Violent Crime
Read A Psychological Assessment of Crime Profiling
Read Criminal Profiling From Crime Scene Analysis
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Criminal Profiling Debate