Geographical Profiling Assumptions
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What are the issues with opportunity distributions?
- Difficult to include context into calculations
- Inappropriate distance measures could be used
- The distribution of criminal opportunities in an area is not measured (although the overlaying of the offender mental map and target distribution can help generate high risk areas)
- Situational factors are not fully taken into account
What are the issues with distance decay?
- Rely on decay functions and buffer zones, these are not always followed; people aren't entirely rational
- The aggregate distance decay curve is assumed to be representative of all criminals in the area
How have offender profiling been compared to a machine?
- Snook et al (2004)
- Crimestat negative exponential function used
- 10 maps and 3 murder locations analysed randomly, using decay and circle theory group
- Error distance calculated for each
- Both significantly more accurate than the control
- Decay significantly more accurate than circle theory
How has the accuracy of these methods been investigated?
- Snook et al (2005)
- Calculated the accuracy for different strategies ranging from basic spatial distribution to sophisticated probability distance
- Truncated negative exponential was the most effective and the centre of the circle was the least (more than 1km less)
Can geographical profiling be used for terrorist attacks?
- Yes and no (Bennell & Corey, 2007)
- Studied Action Directe (a french communist terrorist group in the 80s) and The revolutionary people's group (a Greek paramilitary organisation in the 60s and 70s)
- Concluded that it may be possible but only under certain conditions
- Major assumptions are violated by some terrorist groups (Action Directe used extreme commuter tactics, travelling to different countries rendering the approach almost useless)
- Did work for the people's struggle as there was less commuting
- Suggests that it could be used for internal, not external terrorism
Can Geographical profiling be used for counter-insurgency?
- Kucera (2005)
- US National Technology Alliance conducted assessments to test the efficacy of geographical profile four counter insurgency tactics
- Used Rigel (geographical profiling software)
- 50 IED incidents first analysed using intel from active units
- Successfully narrowed down to 8 sites then to one man who was caught fleeing
- Also used on a period of 30 days arms attack
- Determined some attacks were specially constrained en route to the airport
- Successfully allowed soldiers to locate areas in which supply centres for weapons and explosives were located
What are the limitations of profiling systems?
- Relies on accurate data and the successful linkage of offences that cannot always be made
- Only based on caught offenders, not applicable to those who evade capture
- Data are skewed towards easy to catch criminals (close to home) so less is known bout commuters
- Ignores individual differences that affect awareness space
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