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The Nigerian criminal justice system is not entirely ignorant or unaware of the use and the merits of the application of criminal profiling as a tool in crime investigation. However, criminal profiling in Nigeria has not nearly reached the level of recognition, functionality or institutionalization that it has attained in other jurisdictions.

This study aims to increase the awareness, explore the import, feasibility and the practicality of offender profiling in criminal acts especially those of violent and sexual nature with particular focus on the Nigerian criminal justice system. It will also give an expository critique of the loopholes and impediments in the system and ways criminal profiling can fill up these holes.

The research methods employed in this study includes a combination of both primary and secondary sources. These primary sources include various legislations relating to the criminal justice system in Nigeria and other jurisdictions and countries most especially the USA and the UK. Legislations such as the Criminal Code, The Police Act and the 1999 Constitution will be referred to. Secondary sources include references to textbooks, journals and articles written by leading authors and scholars in the area of criminal and offender profiling. Online articles, journals, abstracts and books will also serve as a secondary information source in this study.

The effectiveness of this field is greatly highlighted in this thesis with the view that criminal investigative analysis will be effectively immersed into the justice system and receive as much recognition as it has in other jurisdictions especially in the US and in major parts of Europe. The question whether or not criminal profiling can be absorbed and modified to suit Nigeria is one which this project attempts to resolve, and if not, why.




“The more outré and grotesque an incident is the more carefully it deserves to be examined, and the very point which appears to complicate a case, is, when duly considered and scientifically handled, the one which is most likely to elucidate it”1

This statement made by the world‘s famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his endearing ability to solve crime by describing the perpetrator from factual deductions is a skill shared by the expert investigative profiler. Evidence speaks of its own language of patterns and sequences that can reveal the offender‘s behavioural characteristics. Like Sherlock Holmes, the profiler can say ―I know who he must be‖.

It is not uncommon to watch in the news, read in the newspapers or in major documentaries about serial killers and violent criminals who murder, rape or assault victims due to certain similar features that the victims all possess or out of certain distorted motive or intentions. Most serial killers and violent criminals are psychologically impaired based on a peculiar past experience that make them seek some form of personal vendetta against persons who look or act like those that have hurt them in the past or just out of sheer perverse pleasure. These crimes are committed in peculiar manners with little or no material evidence linking the offenders to the act making it more difficult for the law enforcement to apprehend them. Forensic analysts and psychologists over the years have sought means of identifying such criminals based on their mode of operation, signature behaviour, target victims and material evidence from previous crime scenes. This is where the process of criminal profiling is applied.

Criminal profiling has been defined in many ways by various scholars based on their distinct backgrounds and as such, been called many names such as criminal personality profiling, criminological profiling, behavioural profiling, criminal investigative analysis2, offender profiling, psychological profiling, crime scene analysis, socio-psychological profiling and linkage analysis3

1 Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle, 1901, Sherlock Holmes “The Hound Of Baskervilles

2  A term used by The United States Of America‘s Federal Bureau Of Investigation(FBI) Behavioural Science Unit

3Labuschagne, G.N., 2006, "The Use of Linkage Analysis as Evidence in the Conviction of the Newcastle Serial Murder, South Africa", Journal of Investigative Psychology & Offender Profiling, 3(3), 183-191.


Despite the different names, all of these tactics share a common goal: to help investigators examine evidence from crime scenes and victim and witness reports to develop an offender description. Holmes states that the major function of profiling is to assist in the detection of offenders by extrapolating their personal attributes from information available in crimes.4

Criminal profiling is the identification of specific characteristics of an individual committing a particular crime by thorough systematic observational process and an analysis of the crime scene, the victim, the forensic evidence and the known facts of the crime. It is acknowledging the skewed validity of the perpetrator‘s perspective to be able to predict him ―without allowing yourself to become lost in him and his world‖5. Criminal profiling is a behavioural and investigative tool that is intended to help investigators to accurately predict and profile the characteristics of unknown criminal subjects or offenders.6 A basic premise of criminal profiling is that the way a person thinks (i.e., his or her patterns of thinking) directs the person‘s behaviour. Thus, when the investigative profiler analyzes a crime scene and notes certain critical factors, he or she may be able to determine the motive and type of person who committed the crime.7 All the information from the crime scene is a reflection of the criminal‘s behaviour and this behaviour can create a surprisingly accurate picture of the offender.8 This technique has been used by criminal psychologists who are experts in this field to examine criminal behaviour and to evaluate as well as possibly predict the future actions of criminals.

Described as psychological profiling, it is a method of suspect identification which seeks to identify a person's mental, emotional, and personality characteristics (as manifested in things done or left at the crime scene)9

Criminal profiling is a relatively new enforcement practice. It newly emerged in the last two decades and still remains a highly controversial tool.10 It has become part of public consciousness even though

4 Holmes R.M, 1989, Profiling Violent Crimes: An Investigative Tool; Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications.

5  Wayne Choniki, Of The Arcane Research Group, United States Of America

6  Kocsis R. N., 2009, Applied Criminal Psychology: A Guide To Forensic Behavioural Sciences, Charles C Thomas Publisher, 2009, Pp.226

7 Douglas et al., 1986; Criminal Profiling From Crime Scene Analysis; Behavioural Sciences and The Law 403. Vol 4, Number 4.

8 Accessed March 21. 2011.

9  Berg Bruce, 2008, Criminal Investigation, 4th edition.

10 Wilson, P., Lincoln, R., Kocsis, R. (1999), Validity, Utility and Ethics of Profiling Serial Violent and Sexual

Offenders. Retrieved from:,/Accessed December 1st, 2014.


many people are not really sure what it is and the great majority of people have no idea at all of how it is done. This ignorance is just as prevalent in professional circles as amongst the lay public.11 Despite the widespread use of criminal profiling in serial crime investigations, the practice continues to endure fierce criticism from researchers, who almost unanimously agree that profiling lacks scientific foundation and depends on flawed methodology. As a result the validity and utility of criminal profiling is compromised to the extent where evidence is not admissible in court, and serious miscarriages of justice are caused. Profilers are often characterized as being socially alienated individuals, deeply troubled by their own selfless insights into the minds of the unknown offenders that they are hunting. This view presented by fiction and the media not only is completely false but also vehemently misleading.12

The question whether criminal profiling is a science or an art has been a common topic of debate by psychologists and experts. It is frequently asserted that profiling is more art than science, and evidence for its validity is limited. Holmes reports 1981 FBI data indicating that in 192 cases of profile generation, arrests were made in 88, but in only 17% of these did the profile contribute to arrest.13 Canter and Heritage cite more recent FBI claims of 80% accuracy, although this has been disputed.14 As Canter notes, if psychological profiling is to achieve a firmer basis than astrology or spiritualism in aiding the police, ―psychologists need not only to establish the predictive validity of the process, but also why it works‖.15 There is also a popular myth that profilers are ‗psychic‘, have special metaphysical and supernatural powers, and are born with an intuitive gift. Although there is a quiet consensus that intuition is an asset to the profiler, the rest is basically a myth, untrue. Turvey dismisses this myth by advocating a discipline that entails the careful evaluation of physical evidence, collected and properly analyzed by a team of specialists from different areas, for the purpose of systematically reconstructing the crime scene, developing a strategy to assist in the capture16. The contents of this project will however discuss the controversies, issues and doubts and also highlight the importance and expediency of criminal profiling.




14 Blackburn R., 1993, “The Psychology of Criminal Conduct: Theory, Research and Practice” Wiley and Sons.

15 Canter, 1989, “Offender Profiling: The Psychologis

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