Five things you may not have known about offender profiling

The latest in my ‘Learn Something New Every Day’ series – taken from The Great Courses’ Trails of Evidence: How Forensic Science Works (Lecture 27 – Profiling)

  1. Profiling only has one job – to reduce a suspect pool to a more manageable (ie: smaller) size. Trained profilers attempt to identify the characteristics of a perpetrator only, they’re not involved in final individual selection/s.
  2. The FBI first coined the phrase ‘offender profiling’ to refer to the act of using clues from a crime scene to infer what kind of characteristics and offender might have.
  3. Profiling was first formally used in the 1960s but is now used every day – routine traffic stops, airport screenings.
  4. According to an official statement from the FBI, profiling is ‘an art, not a science. It applies only to the interpretation of the offender’s behaviour in the commission of a crime, to determine the unknown offender’s personality traits and characteristics’
  5. Results of profiling (and therefore behavioural profilers) are not permitted in court proceedings unless it’s being used to describe the investigative process. Only the facts go to court.