Friday, 18 January 2013

Profiling - Only Another Tool In A Detectives` Bag

Profiling.  That new science that can help Police catch perpetrators.  This new technique developed into the Police consciousness in the late seventies, worked out by a small band of men that examined the characteristics of the crimes, thereby coming up with a profile of what type of person they should be on the look out for.  They did have a great number of successes, along with numerous failures, but it was the film "Silence of The Lambs" that brought it out into the public consciousness.  The TV show "Criminal Minds" has continued this theme.

    But where did this technique actually start from?  The first real profile of an offender was Jack  The Ripper. One of the doctors who carried out a post mortem on one of the Ripper victims, gave his opinion on what he thought of the offender, based on what he discovered during the autopsy.  The first truly accurate profile of an offender, was the New York Bomber.  The offender was caught, thanks to the profile drawn up by Dr James Brussel, and the profile was remarkably accurate.  The bomber was a disgruntled worker named George Metetski.

    A homicide cop called Pierce Brooks pushed the FBI to form a unit using this technique and headed the Behavioural Analysis Unit.  Other top men who went through the ranks included Robert Ressler, John Douglas, Roy Hazelwood and Mark Safarik.  All these men have stressed that profiling is not proof of guilt but what the offender could be.  In short, it is only another investigative tool for the Police.  However, there are always people who attack the system of profiling and the people behind it.  One man who studied at the FBI Academy, home of the profilers, was a South Carolina cop who commented "Who cares which type of profiling is right, as long as we catch the son of a bitch."  Philosophy that is foreign to many people.

    In Britain, it was the case of the Railway Murders committed by John Duffy and Russell Mulcahy.  Psychologist David Canter gave a very accurate profile that led Police to John Duffy.  This started Dr Canter on the path to geographical profiling, basing a lot on the areas that offenders work in.  This type of profiling was developed by detective Kim Rossmo.  Of course this brought people into conflict as just who`s approach was correct.  At the end of the day, it is all educated and inspired guesswork.  I view a lot of it as common sense.

    The spectacular failure of profiling in this country, was the Rachel Nickell murder and the subsequent attempt by the Police to convict Colin Stagg for the crime.  The case was thrown out by the Judge who remarked that it was all "reprehensible entrapment" and gave a scathing condemnation of the Police and their profiler, Paul Britton.  Around the time of this horrific murder, was a number of rapes in a small area called Chain Bar, and the even more horrific murder of a young woman and her small child.  Investigating Officer DCS Mick Banks, thought that all three incidents were committed by the same man.  Nickell detectives were not really interested in Banks` theory, as they had their man on remand.  He also asked Britton if he thought that the same man committed all three crimes.  He responded by saying that it was three different offenders.  It was later proved that the same man HAD committed all these crimes, and he was convicted of all of them.  The man was Robert Napper.  DCS Banks was right all along.