Profiling, a term we often hear relating to analyzing an individual’s psychological and behavioral characteristics in order to help police work to link crimes, focusing on the investigation and be able to narrow down the possible suspect filed. There are currently many ways in approaching to offender’s profiling. Such as the ‘Top-Downwn Approach’ which was used in the 1970 by the FBI and was initially developed on the basis of 36 convicted serial killers and rapists. They were questioned and through that, with the cooperation of experts from FBI with insights of many crime they examine and solves. They developed a way to profile which are started by observing carefully of the crime scene and would tie up the evidence found at the crime scene about the offender to form possibly multiple conclusion. The profilers would also study other similar cases so that they would be able to establish a visualisation of the offender’s profiles. In addition, such an approach was often used in a more serious and extreme crime, for example, rape and murder, especially if they are connected in series. Another approach developed by the FBI is the ‘Typological offender profiling’ during the late 1970, which fundamentally based on behavioral evidence gained from a specific crime and the crime scene set. Later, the FBI also categorized their offender into organized and disorganized which will be discussed further in this essay. Furthermore, ‘Actuarial Approach’ is also a method used not only in the criminal justice system but also in the financial and insurance security industries. This approach considers the risk that could occur in the future, for example, unemployment, illness, and death which is very useful in checking the suitability for financial and insurance security. In the criminal justice system, the actuarial approach uses this concept and procedure to calculate the danger and risk of offenders. It can also carry out crime prevention strategies and policing. This essay will explore the different aspect of approaches that FBI used and actuarial approach, how they work, the strength and downside of the approaches and how useful are these methods when dealing with crime.
To start with, typological offender profiling is one of the approaches that FBI developed in the late 1970. It is largely established on the agent’s experience and qualitative data; they could study the characteristics of an offender from the nature of the crime they committed. The FBI also set out different categories for classifying different offender as they are considered that different offender would show different psychological characteristics. For instance, offender in the organized categories would have quality such as planned crimes, e.g. brought their own weapon to the crime scene; they have a strong awareness of self-control; they would erase all the evidence and be able to cover track that could lead to the offender; the offender often choose a stranger as its victim and be able to control the victim more easily. They would also have the characteristics of normal to highly intelligent which suggest they could have work in a skilled occupation and often have strong social and sexual competent; they are also suggested to be forethought and depressed. On the other hand, disorganized categories indicated that the offenders often didn’t plan their crime, they would have to find the weapon that is available to them in the crime scene; as their crim act in a haphazard manner, they would often leave traces of evidence and track that could lead to them. They have also shown characterizes that they usually have low intelligent or suffer from severer mental illness which suggests they could have chaotic behavior and have low social and sexual skills; research suggested they might likely to be the first or last-born child of the family, worked in unskilled environment and lives along. Victims are often people around or known to the offender which gives very little control to the victim. Howitt (2009) proposed that the FBI have four stages when processing profiling. First, data assimilation, all the data, and information found in crime scene photos, medical examiner’s report, autopsy report, pathologists’ report, and police reports, etc, are put together. Second, the classification of the crime scene, according to the crime scene, the offender would be categorized into organized or disorganized. Third, reconstructing the crime scene, crime sequence, victim and offender’s behavior, etc, would be examined and generate a hypothesis as to what happened in the crime scene. Finally, develop the offender’s profile, demographic and psychical characteristics, behavioral habits, employment skill set, sexual history, age, and ethnic group are then constructed by the profilers.
However, there are also severe problem and criticism as to FBI’s way of approaching the profiling. Some suggested that the process of profiling are quite objective due to the scientific reliability of what it is based on the evidence and if profiling is useful or not. There are researchers stated that most of the offenders shows characteristics and feathers of both organized and disorganized in their crime and that assuming the offender behaviour and crime technique are stable over time are incorrect because they may shift these things from one crime to the other and that could restrict the effectiveness of profiling (Wilson et al., 1997). Other researcher indicated that evidence from the crime scene that profile based on are often insufficient and misleading, and for these reasons, the conclusion came up are often more hypothetical (Canter, 2000). Furthermore, the aspect decided based on the crime scene evidence are often made by profiler can often determine the offender’s profile. In other words, different people can come up with a different profile of the offender depending on what and how they want to use as to look at the aspect of the crime scene evidence. There is also an absence of verifiable and testing standard to test the accuracy and validity of the profile because the people that draw the conclusion of the profile are itself, artificial in nature (Downden et al., 2007; Kocsis, 2203) which also set boundaries of their external validity. Although the FBI suggested the Behavioural Science Unit has examined the validity of profile, which results in an accuracy of 80%. Yet, this claim of correctness cannot be verified because this was an internal report and was never shown to the public.
On the other hand, the actuarial approach to offender profiling is used in worldwide industries such as insurance and financial security. They are used to measure the future risk such as illness, unemployment, and death. When this concept was used in criminal justice, there are four features associated with it: deviance is normal as crime itself is a result of existing in society, they are considered to be occurring in probability rate and that if we are to minimize crime from happening or even preventing form it, we need to judge the risk of varied circumstances. It is; therefore, crime has been seen as normal nowadays as a direct consequence of modern societies due to its loss of moral component. Another aspect of the actuarial approach is that they consider the risk of profiles rather than individuals, it very fundamental feather is that they depend on the concept of risk. It illustrates people characterizes, its social development and experience as risk factors. A person’s information and identity are broken into pieces, in which the variables will classify into different categories and associate with different level of risk to form an individual’s risk profile. The third characterize is that the variable shift to managing the risk that the offenders represent rather than transforming. When the offender’s risk profile has been conducted, different prison or institute are presented for different level risk and their categories of crime. This gives a more systematic approach to organizing and managing societies when comes into diagnosis and treatment. Finally, the actuarial approach is mainly examining the loss of capability and controlling an individual’s future behavior. Substantially, the actuarial approach target in judging and prohibiting the future possible behavior of criminal activity in favor of acknowledging them or consider and aiming their past causality.
It is not possible to exterminate criminal behavior from happening, it is therefore very important to reduce to the lowest possible degree and that the method of preventing crime is mostly relying upon risk classification by the police force. For example, high graded incapacitation of high-risk offenders that are classified as ‘bad risk’ would be ban against form any form of social interaction. Nevertheless, the evolvement of the recent actuarial approach researches is mostly based on male offenders. There are issues to be debated whether or not the samples used are related to the circumstances by youngsters, young adults, and women in the scheme. It is almost certain that these works of literature are useful and significant up to a certain use. Consequently, there is some measure of the juvenile justice system occupied with actuarial approach model (Kimberly Kempf-Lenord & Elicka Peterson, 2000). Furthermore, there is increasing use of actuarial approach terminology and judgment in women’s arrestment, in company with disciplinary and retributive models.
The major focus of this essay was to differentiate the FBI approach of offender’s profiling and the actuarial approach used in the criminal justice system. It has been an issue that the foundation of profiling evolvement and theories doesn’t have a strong scientific and valid research and background knowledge. FBI’s profiling approach relies mostly on the agent’s past experiences and guidelines on offender could behave and act, which suggest that the profile could often be very vague. Although the actuarial approach is more systematic and statically based, it is unsure that the data first put in are valid and that could also cause different conclusion due to different circumstances on the different offender. However, the current use of these approach works usefully up to a certain point, but it also gives a new crucial point of view to approach these offenders.