The Top-Down Approach


The top-down approach

Offender profiling = also known as 'criminal profiling', a behavioural and analytical tool that is intended to help investigators accurately predict and profile the characteristics of unknown criminals.

The main aim of offender profiling is to narrow the field of enquiry and the list of likely suspects. Methods vary, but the compiling of a profile will usually involve careful scrutiny of the crime scene and analysis of the evidence in order to generate a hypothesis about the possible characteristics of the offender.

The American Approach

The top-down approach = profilers start with a pre-established typology and work down in order to assign offenders to one of the two categories based on witness accounts and evidence from the crime scene.

The top-down approach was established in the 1970s as a result of work carried out by the FBI by their Behavioural Science Unit, who carried out a set of in-depth interviews with 36 sexually motivated serial killers, including Ted Bundy and Charles Manson.

The top-down approach is also referred to as the typology approach. An offender will match a template which has been produced by the investigators. Murderers…


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