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Criminal Profiling Essay

Nowadays, criminal profiling takes a special place in criminology. This term is known not only to the professionals who work in the sphere of criminology, but also to the ordinary people from all over the world. This term is often used in mass media. For example, the movies Silence of Lambs or The X-Files represent a lot of scenes based on criminal profiling. However, the true profilers state that criminal profiling is “a science or an art”. (Muller, 2000, p.234)

It is known that many law enforcement agencies refer rather sceptically to the work of criminal profilers while criminal profiling is an effective tool. So, has criminal profiling “begun to shape chance”?

My goal in this paper is to discuss the role of criminal profiling in criminal investigation and to prove the fact that criminal profiling can alter “chance”.


Criminal profiling is a special tool in criminology which is used to create a psychological portrait of the offender by means of available information on the crime. The criminal profiler takes such information from the scene of the crime. This information may include the model of weapons, victim’s testimony, geographical pattern of the place of crime, and so on. (Clevenger, 2011, para.2)

The major aim of any criminal profiling is to get enough information concerning the behavior, traits of personality, and physical characteristics of the offender in order to catch him. (Muller, 2000, p.236)


It is known that criminal profiling has a long history. Its roots can be related to the end of the 19-th century. Special attention was paid to the case of Jack the Ripper who committed a number of crimes in England. The profiling of the Ripper was constructed and used in the process of investigation. The Allied Forces were interested in profiling during the World War II. The Allies tried to compose the profile of Adolf Hitler. From the above mentioned cases, law enforcement started to use profiling in the process of investigation of the crime. (Rogers, 2003, p.292)


In the article The shaping of chance: Actuarial models and criminal profiling at the turn of the twenty- first century, Harcourt touches upon the theme of criminal profiling as a major tool used for identifying individuals who are more likely to commit crimes. The author of the article is sure that if a correlation between a group trait and criminal activity is identified, it is easy to prevent crime. He uses racial profiling as an example – “an explicit use of race in law enforcement decisions”. (Harcourt, 2003, p.118)

Race profiling means that the police officer can stop someone because he knows that the representatives of this race can commit this or that crime. In anti-terrorism policy, race profiling plays an important role.

The author of the article argues that race profiling and other forms of criminal profiling are considered to be the major means to prevent or solve thousands of crimes connected with terrorism. However, the author pays special attention to the fact that in most cases racial profiling is a form of discrimination. Sometimes, the accusation may be wrong. The author states that “the wrongful profiling of individuals has no offsetting benefit”. In this case, the investigation of the crime will be inefficient and discriminatory. Racial profiling can shape the whole perception of the crime and “the distribution of the punishment”. (Harcourt, 2003, p.128)

The other type of profiling is psychological profiling. According to the opinion of another experts, there are three major goals of using psychological profiling in law enforcement: psychological assessment of the criminals, psychological evaluation of some possessions of the criminals or suspected persons and the use of different psychological strategies during the interviews with the criminals. (Muller, 2000, p.236)


There are six major stages in the process of criminal profiling:

  • Profiling Inputs. This stage includes the collection of all the relevant information concerning the crime. For example, photos of the place of crime, the preliminary report of the police officer, the victim’s interview and so on.
  • Decision Process Models. In this stage, the appropriate information should be well organized. Moreover, the preliminary analysis should be conducted. The type of crime which was committed by the criminal is defined.
  • Crime Assessment. This stage of criminal profiling has the major aim – to reconstruct the crime in the head of the profiler. The profiler tries to define the crime (organized or disorganized). Moreover, the motivation of the criminal who committed the crime is defined.
  • Criminal Profile. In this stage the profiler tries to collect all the information in order to construct the profile. The profiler examines and compares this crime with other crimes and find common features. The profiler represents the following information concerning the criminal in his profile: age, race, gender, appearance, relationship status of the criminal, education, occupation and so on.
  • Investigation. In this stage, the profiler delivers the written report to the law enforcement agency that is busy with investigation of this crime.
  • Apprehension. This stage shows that the result of the investigation. If the criminal has been caught, the profile is considered to be successful. The profiling process is evaluated in order make the future profiles more accurate. (Muller, 2000, p.240)


There are two models of criminal profiling which include deductive and inductive models. The first model, inductive profiling, is focused on inductive logic. In this case, the information from the criminal’s database is used in order to predict the criminal’s behavior. Deductive profiling is focused on deductive logic. The case is analyzed and the behavioral profile is constructed. Criminal profiling can reduce the number of suspected persons and “allows the investigative resources to be used more effectively”. (Rogers, 2003, p.293)


In conclusion, it is necessary to say that the use of criminal profiling by law enforcement agencies is very efficient in their effort to combat crime and terrorism. It is predicted that in future criminal profiling will undergo some serious modifications which will make it possible to solve crimes faster and in a more efficient way. Today, criminal profiling “has begun to shape chance”.


Clevenger, T. (2011) What is Criminal Profiler? Ehow. Retrieved from:<http://www.ehow.com/about_5060979_criminal-profiler.html>

Harcourt, B. E., (2003). The shaping of chance: Actuarial models and criminal profiling at the turn of the twenty- first century. The University of Chicago Law Review, 70(1).
Muller, D.A. (2000) Criminal Profiling: Real Science or just Wishful Thinking? Homicide Studies. Vol.4(3). August, 2000. Sage Publications, Inc. Retrieved from:<http://www.uwinnipeg.ca/academic/ddl/viol_cr/files/readings/reading22.pdf>
Rogers, M. (2003) The Role of Criminal Profiling in the Computer Forensics Process. CERIAS. Purdue University. Retrieved from:<http://www2.tech.purdue.edu/cit/Courses/cit556/readings/Profile-Rogers.pdf>