Appropriate Inferences

In order for decisions to be derived from the information available, inferences have to be made about the import of that information. The third set of tasks therefore derives from developing a basis for those inferences at the heart of police investigations. These inferences derive from an understanding of criminal behaviour. For appropriate conclusions to be drawn from the accounts available of the crime it is necessary to have, at least implicitly, models of how various offenders act. Without templates of what is possible within a crime, the investigator cannot know what to look for in an offence, what has occurred, or indeed what has not occurred. These models allow the accounts of crime to be processed in such a way as to generate possibilities for action. This process of model-building and testing is, in effect, a scientific, psychological development of the informal, anecdote-based process often referred to as 'offender profiling' or 'criminal profiling'.

A simple framework for these three sets of tasks that gives rise to the field of Investigative Psychology is shown in Figure 2.4.3. More detailed information about each of these three strands of Investigative Psychology is given below.

Investigation cycle giving rise to field of Investigative

Psychology

Information

Action Inference

Action Inference

More formally, then, Investigative Psychology is the systematic, scientific study of:

(a) investigative information, its retrieval, evaluation and utilisation;

(b) police actions and decisions, their improvement and support; and

(c) the inferences that can be made about criminal activity, its development, differentiation and prediction,

The objective is to improve criminal and civil investigations.

Figure 2.4.3 The three strands of Investigative Psychology

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