There are similarities and patterns in criminal behavior that allow law enforcers to determine the profile of perpetrators. By studying crime scenes, police can develop a criminal profile, which would then create a clearer picture of an otherwise unknown suspect or criminal.
Still, human behavior is unpredictable. At best, police can only study routines and habits, but people react differently to varying situations, and no situation is ever the same, at least not 100%. This makes criminal profiling a limited and inaccurate tool for criminal investigation.
Criminal profiling remains one of the most useful tools for criminal investigation. Despite its inaccuracies and limitations, criminal profiling has its advantages.
List of Pros of Criminal Profiling
1. Offers Investigative Data
Absent witness, video recording, and other substantial evidence, criminal profiling is the only tool that police can use to identify the perpetrator based on minute evidence in the crime scene and other related locations. No matter how little the information may be, with criminal profiling, law enforcers have something to work on and develop leads.
2. Provides Protection for Potential Victims
Criminal profiling may identify the demographics of a suspect’s target victims, which makes it easier for police to heighten alerts and impose protection for these potential victims.
3. Clearer Identification of Suspect
Profiling gives a clearer description of possible culprits, including age, marital status, criminal history, routines, and other details, which police can use to narrow down their list of prospect criminals and have a solid basis for an investigation.
4. Needs No Physical ID
Criminal profiling can describe the suspect via their personal characteristics and does not require description of their physical traits. Violent offenders with criminal records may be easier to identify after evaluation of the crime and development of a profile.
List of Cons of Criminal Profiling
1. Based on Assumptions
It is possible that the real culprit does not actually fit into the profile. That law enforcers may be after someone who could be wrongfully accused of a crime they did not commit all because the profile points to them.
2. Relies Heavily on Consistency
Criminal profiling is largely based on a person’s routine or habit, as in the case of serial rapists and serial killers who do crimes with a clear pattern. But this is not always the case with other criminals who kill at random and for the sheer fun of it.
3. Has Limited Methods
There seven methods and six scientific approaches to criminal profiling, and all of which are imperfect. Police create criminal profiles using these methods and approaches, and beyond these, there is no way that criminals may be accurately profiled.
4. Subject to Different Interpretations
It was found that investigators use ambiguous language in criminal profiles that is subject to different interpretations. The culprit must be clearly identified, but this is impossible or difficult when the profile language is unverifiable and unclear.