Do you know about Criminal Profiling? Don’t worry we are here to explain Criminal Profiling and Criminal Profiler in detail and the extent to which they are used in India and other countries. We all are somewhat aware of the investigation process to solve a case.

As of now, you must know that it is merely a part of the process and helps significantly in the investigation when Forensic evidence and witnesses couldn’t provide enough information about the criminal.


Introduction to Criminal Profiling

Criminal Profiling is also known as Offender Profiling or Psychological Profiling. It is a part of the investigation which is used to identify the specific characteristics of a person and his/her psyche by analysing the comes committed by an unknown person. A pattern of the crimes committed by them is studied and a personality of that specific person is developed.

The profiling is done by the experts to develop the personality, psychological traits and predict the future actions of a criminal using their experiences in the field of psychology and behavioural science and is very important in the investigation when Forensic analysis doesn’t provide conclusive evidence related to the case.

Criminal Profiling becomes even more important in the case of serial killers. When Criminal profiling was introduced to the world, it was used only in the case of serial killers to identify their MODUS OPERANDI. 

As time progressed, it was started to be used in different cases to identify the reason and pattern of crime. There are different ways to identify the cause such as social, economic, anthropological and psychological.

Criminal Profiling is a combination of law and psychological traits. Psychological is the most effective and accurate of all the methods to understand the nature of the criminal.


Criminal Profiler

John DouglasCriminal Profiler is an expert who profiles an unknown criminal based on the analysis of the crime scene. Criminal Profiler has good experience in the field of psychology and behavioural science.

A criminal profiler researches all his life on the nature and psychology of random people. Some profilers even have gone to jail as prisoners to understand the mentality of the criminals and how they feel after committing a crime.

We have seen the criminal profilers work in TV shows like “Mindhunter”, “The Silence of Lambs” etc. Since 1974 Criminal profiling has become an art for books, TV shows and movies.

In the books, Anne Bartol and Curt have written a book to present a realistic and empirically-based look at the theory, research and practice of modern criminal profiling. The book is designed is such a way that it delves into a variety of criminal justice and psychology courses to identify, personality traits, geographical locations, behaviour and biological descriptions of the perpetrator.

‘Mindhunter’ for example, has explored the earliest efforts used by FBI to profile a serial killer and is based on famous FBI agent John Douglas. 


Process of Criminal Profiling

A criminal profiler undergoes various processes to build a profile of an offender. The process includes:-

  • Investigation
  • Recognition
  • Prosecution


In the investigation, a Criminal profiler relates the personality of a criminal of different crimes to understand whether it is done by same offender or not. In this phase, a criminal profile tries to match the lifestyle characteristics, the pattern of modus operandi, etc. from the crime scene to link it with numerous crimes done by unknown perpetrators.


The process in which a criminal profiler tries to predict the future actions of a criminal based on his profile. This phase includes the strategies on how and where to search for the perpetrator and what information should be included in the warrant against the offender.


In this process, the profiler tries to link the criminal as an expert to the series of crimes during a trial in the court of law based on the Forensic evidence and the profile created by the expert.


Criminal Profiling in India and other countries

To be a criminal profiler, a person needs to complete his masters in criminology or Forensic psychology.

Criminology is a subset of sociology which is a study of criminal behaviour and crimes to disclose the cause, legal aspects and rehabilitation of those crimes. Criminology also addresses the response of a society to such crimes and provides ways to prevent the same.

Forensic psychology along with criminology works towards the study of behavioural science which focuses towards being a criminal profiler, expert witness in court, suspect interrogators, rehabilitation of offenders, counselling, etc.

If we look at the scope of criminal profiling in India, it looks like an emerging field. They play a very important role in criminal investigations and prison counselling of the offenders. UK, US and many different countries make use of these experts widely as opposed in India.

India lacks the variety and well-defined roles of such experts. These experts play a very important role in maintaining the criminal justice system of the countries except in India where such expertise is not widely used.

If we look deeply into the issue, India uses clinical psychologists widely while a qualified forensic psychologist is not common in India.

Some interviews with such psychologists have revealed that they are mostly used for lie detection tests and narco analysis while their job profile is much wider and could be used to a greater extent rather than these tests.

It has been viewed that criminal profiling helps the governments in maintaining the criminal justice system and also helps them know if their justice system is on the right path towards achieving less crime rate.

In developed countries, government agencies work towards maintaining such a database while in India, such data have never been collected by government agencies. It is, however, done by the private bodies to some extent.

Forensic psychologists are called upon for very few cases and that too, high-profile cases. For example:- Arushi murder case. In that case, a Forensic psychologist from Gujarat was called upon and later her expert testimony was disregarded by the CBI.

Prison psychologists is another profile for Forensic psychologists, which can help in maintaining peace among the offences in making them a peaceful offender while serving in jail. In India, such job profiles are largely unheard of.

In developed countries, Prison psychologists help the prisoners being mentally healthy because being in a prison for long periods could be stressful in a lot of ways and therefore, the mental health of the prisoners needs to be addressed to prevent self-injuries (suicide attempts, etc.) as well as hurting their inmates.

Another aspect is the mental health of victims. In many cases such as sexual abuse, communal or caste-based crimes, etc. the mental health of victims needs to be assessed and very carefully addressed.

In such sensitive cases, the victims are required to give their statements and doing so in an inappropriate way could not be helpful. A psychologist understands and handles the victim in a good manner that doesn’t affect the victims further, rather also starts counselling to make them better.

In-country like India, where the crime rate is so high, these issues need to be addressed seriously.


Case Studies of Criminal profiling

There are a lot of cases where criminal profiling was required, however, we have added a few for you in this article.

Edmund Emil Kemper III (also known as Ed Kemper)

Edmund ed Kemper

In childhood, Kemper was locked up in the basement by his mother. That isolation by his family influenced him greatly in committing such heinous crimes. He had described his fear and anger that compiled within him along with the things he envisioned doing.

At the age of 13, Kemper slaughtered his own pet using a Machete and stuffed the remains in his closet and that incident showed the extent to which his anger had increased. He didn’t stop at this rather he felt empowered and also placed the head of a cat on an altar.

He also developed a hobby of cutting the heads of his sister’s dolls which he found and these accounted to the patterns he used to kill his victims. He used to chop off the head of his victims before having sex with them.

Later he was questioned as to why he sexually abused those bodies after killing and his response was, “The head trip fantasies were a bit like a trophy. You know the head is where everything is at, the brain, eyes, mouth. That’s the person. I remember being told as a kid, you cut off the head and the body dies. The body is nothing after the head is cut off … well, that’s not quite true, there’s a lot left in the girl’s body without the head.”

He was on a killing spree between May 1972 and April 1973 in which he killed 8 women. Psychologists say that first 7 murders were his rehearsals for the killing of his ultimate target i.e., his mother.


Zodiac Killer

Zodiac Killer

In the late 1960s, California was haunted held hostage to a psychopath’s weird game. He became famous with the name of Zodiac Killer. He killed a series of women and used to send cryptic messages to the public right after that and enjoyed the taunting. This case remains unsolved to date. A movie has also been made on this case.

Zodiac Killer’s identity remains unknown. He coined the name “Zodiac” in a series of taunting letters sent to the local Bay Area Press. The letters sent by him included three cryptograms which remain unsolved.

Zodiac killer murdered victims between 1968 and 1969  including 4 men and 3 women all within the age group of 16 to 29 years. Numerous suspects have been named but no conclusive evidence against was found.

He was well-known for his cleverly dark facade, used to instil terror in his victims. This was the inspiration for many future films based on the events, as well as the many less reputable sequels.


Nithari Killer

Nithari case

Surinder Koli and Moninder Singh Pandher were arrested in 2006 in connection with the discovery of skulls of missing children found in the outskirts of Noida.

Surinder Koli was a wealthy businessman and Moninder Singh Pandher was his domestic helper. Surinder Koli faces punishment for the murder of 5 innocent children and is on death row while Pandher awaits fate.

There were 11 other unsolved murders under the same investigation. At the start, there were allegations of rape, organ trafficking, cannibalism, paedophilia, etc. some of which remain true while some remain rumours.

Raju Kalender- The Brain eater

Raju Kalender was a low-level employee at Central Ordnance Depot in Naini. He used to kill people almost without any reason or if got angry over someone.

In one killing of his, he killed a person just because he belonged to the Kayasth community and opened his skull to eat his brains because of the belief that those communities have sharper and intelligent brains from where he got his name “Brain eater”.

He was convicted almost after 12 years of his activities that included killing, dismembering their bodies and keeping their skulls in his house and behaved like a King, who hands out punishment to anyone crossing his paths.



After studying these above cases it is quite clear that the study of psychology is important for criminal investigation. There are a lot many cases/examples such as Auto Shankar, Ted Bundy, Cyanide Mohan, Jeffrey Dahmer, etc.

Psychology practice has already started in other countries while it has been established in developed countries. India also needs such studies, especially in serial crimes and heinous crimes.

Psychology is very effective in identifying whether there is a psychological factor behind a crime or not by analysing the Modus Operandi, victim, crime scene and the evidence. All these are important to identify and analyse psychopaths effectively.


Do you think Criminal Profiling should be admissible in courts?


Categories: Psychology


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