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Criminal Geography and Geographical Profiling within Police Investigations – A Brief Introduction

Willmott, Dominic and Hunt, Daniel and Mojtahedi, Dara (2021) Criminal Geography and Geographical Profiling within Police Investigations – A Brief Introduction. Internet Journal of Criminology. ISSN 2045-6743

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Abstract

Understanding the interaction between geography and crime has a long tradition throughout the world. If successfully deconstructed and understood, criminal geography can be used to help police strategically target increasingly scarce resources to prevent and reduce crime, as well as helping police investigators to locate and arrest serial offenders. Geographical Profiling (GP) or Geographical Offender Profiling (GOP), revolves around the premise that information regarding crime-related locations can be utilised and scrutinized to identify the most probable location from which a serial offender is based. Using purpose-built computerised decision support systems, underpinned by psycho-geographical theory and research derived from similar known offender spatial behaviours, police investigations can be assisted in many ways. Most notably, by plotting the known crime locations within a particular crime series, decision support systems are able to generate ‘hot-spot’ areas of high probability and priority. Importantly, this provides police investigators with actionable geographical information which can be used to direct resources towards a likely offender base location and thereby rapidly narrow down large suspect pools into a more manageable number. Contemporary police application of traditional GP methods are discussed.

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