Geographic profiling is a method typically used by criminal investigators to analyze the locations of a connected series of crimes, especially involving rape and serial murders, to determine where an offender might possibly reside. Geographic profiling works on the basis that the location where a crime was committed can provide investigators with very important information.
It assesses and predicts the criminal’s most likely place of residence, place of work, and other social hotspots. Environmental criminology deals with the study of crime and victimization in relation to a particular place, and then, to the way individuals and organizations shape their activities spatially in order to in turn be influenced by place-based or spatial factors. Geographic profiling is a practical application of environmental criminology.
There are three environmental criminology theories that create geographic profiling: namely, rational choice perspective which deals with the ways criminal decisions are made, routine activity theory which deals with the ways opportunities arrive to commit crime as a result of societal changes, and crime pattern theory deals with the way criminals seek and find opportunities to commit crimes in the course of a day.
With these theories in mind, investigators believe that the decisions criminals make regarding where to commit a crime has to do with the opportunities that exist at the time and at the particular location such that successes in committing those crimes lead a criminal to seek and find opportunities to commit repeated crimes in that same particular geographical area over a period of time. This creates the technique of geographic profiling which is said to be an “innovative approach of environmental criminology that is hoped to become a standard investigative tool in the hunt for serial criminals. ”