Criminal profiling in the courtrooms: Behavioural investigative advice or bad character evidence?
Date of this Version
Criminal profiling has received considerable attention from media sources; sufficiently so to allow it to enter into public folklore as a viable investigative technique. It has also attracted considerable attention from the academic community in the form of journal articles and books, and from the professional community in the form of profiling organizations and the establishment of formal profiling units within police agencies. Despite what would appear to be almost universal acclaim, the practice has met with less favorable reviews by the legal communities whom it is also intended to serve. Notably, it has come under fire for its lack of empirical foundation, limited uniformity in process and practice, and insufficient training and education among practitioners. This article explores what profiling involves, its relevance as legal evidence is questioned and in particular the danger of falling foul to the prosecutor’s fallacy’ is examined. Its use in court and as a form of expert testimony is reviewed and some tentative recommendations for its future in a legal context conclude the article.
This document has been peer reviewed.