What is the future of Criminal Profiling ?

The ongoing debate as to the veracity and usefulness of Criminal Profiling continues to this day unabated.  We, at Police Science Institute, offer our Criminal Profiling Course because we side with those professionals who deeply believe that it serves an important process within the Forensic Science venue.


Bear in mind,Criminal Profiling was never “designed” to solve cases independent of other factual / case input.     Everyone admits that Criminal Profiling is not an exact science, and, there remains substantial debate as to whether or not it is effective at all.    It has, according to internal FBI reports as well as the research of others, achieved an effectiveness rate of approximately seventeen percent (17%) with regard to known cases where profiling alone “solved the crime”.   Those opposing its usefulness cite a much lower percentage.


What is commonly encountered in the effectiveness literature are studies which provide opinion evidence that Criminal Profiling was helpful to a case, at least according to detectives who received a profile report.  Perhaps one (1) of the best testaments to the longevity of Criminal Profilinghas been the fact that the FBI, even today, regularly staffs a Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) with numerous profilers who handle well in excess of one thousand (1,000) cases per annum. 


Current Criminal Profiling practice recognizes over 200 different types and sub-types of murder, rape and arson.   This proliferation of types is somewhat of a mixed blessing, as it serves to help overcome the criticism that Criminal Profiling is nothing more than naive “trait theory” (the assumption of stable personality traits indicative of behavior regardless of context or situation). 


Bottom line … the reality exists that “profiling theory” is in fact “trait theory” … considering that traits always have to be inferred.   Standard psychological doctrine maintains that traits are never directly observable, and, as such, the process by necessity includes "interpretation" and "inference" which are somewhat more “clinical arts” in lieu of science.     As such, context or situation must take priority for predictive validity.


In our opinion, the venue of Criminal Profiling will continue to expand, and, will serve to become a greater influence upon crime solving potentials across the board.  Needless to say, the increased need for qualified profiling personnel will create a vastly-expanded market for qualified candidates.  An interesting counter-argument is provided by NewLaw.org:



We would love to receive YOUR opinion on this important topic … tell us what you think … is the future of Criminal Profiling assured or in trouble ?


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