The Fundaments of Geographical Profiling
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What is geographical profiling?
- An investigative methodology that uses the locations of a connected series of crimes to determine the most probable area of offender residence" (Rossmo, 2000).
- Aims to define a search area of possible offender location NOT THE EXACT LOCATION for investigators faced with a series of crimes
Why does X not mark the spot?
- The process is probabilistic, finding the area most likely to contain the offender
- This is not an exact location (Harries & LeBeau, 2007)
What does geographical profiling help with?
- Investigative strategies:
- – Direct patrols and surveillance
- – Neighborhood canvassing
- – Sign posting
- – Leaflet distribution
- – Missing bodies
- – DNA screening
- Case Management
- – Prioritize suspects for interrogation
- – Search databases and records
What is the rational choice theory?
- Clarke (1997)
- Crime is purposive behavior designed to meet the offender’s commonplace needs for such things as money, status, sex and excitement
- The balance between effort and reward depends on the type of crime
- There are individual differences in the way costs and rewards are perceived depending on things such as IQ and socioeconomic status
- Based on the nearness principle
What is the nearness principle?
The principle that connections between places should be made at minimal cost (you should do as little travelling as possible)
What are the assumptions of crime pattern theory?
- As people commit crime they make decisions, when these are committed regularly the decision process becomes regularised and this creates an abstract guiding template
- People rarely function as individuals but are part of a network of family that influence decisions
- The patterns of individuals can be collated to form averages
- Crime involves a triggering event and a method of locating a victim
- The more crime that is committed, the more the criminal's bank of knowledge increases and the MO changes
- People have a routine of daily actions
- Criminals move around like everyone else
- Criminals and victims intersecting activity spaces, these are used to select victims
What factors define human movement?
- Time, effort and cost
- Individual perception of distance influenced by several factors:relative attractiveness, types of barriers, familiarity, actual distance, attractiveness of routes
- Animal foraging techniques are echoed
Why is it hard to use the closeness principle?
Isotropic surfaces (same properties in every direction) are rarely found in human physical environment
What is the awareness space of a criminal?
- All the locations about which a person has knowledge above a minimum level even without visiting some of them
- Awareness space includes activity space and its area enlarges as new locations are discovered and/or new information is gathered" (Clark, 1990:24-25)
What are anchor points?
- The most important places in a criminal's spatial life
- There are preferred routes between anchor points such as a good road
- Main anchor points are often residences but can also be work or family
How are victims chosen?
- Must fall within the awareness space
- A decision must be made on their viability by weighing up costs and benefits
- Usually not people close to home
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