An obstruction to justice: offender profiling

16 years later and the Met have finally and admitted their mistakes by apologising to Colin Stagg after they wrongly took him to court over the murder of Rachel Nickell. Didn’t take too long then, did it?!

Paul Britton, the forensic profiler, that falsely led the police to believe Stagg’s guilt has yet to apologise. He’s probably still sucking on lemons, or spending the nice pay packet he got out of the case.
Maybe he should have used his psychological powers to realise that the police might possibly run with his offender profile because of the severe pressure they were facing to find the criminal.
Offender profiling is somewhat flawed and the profile produced can often lead to the police ignoring other possible subjects that don’t fit the invented character.
Perhaps this is why the Met failed to become suspicious after Robert Napper, the real rapist and suspect at the time, missed his blood test. It was only weeks later that they eliminated him from the investigation because he didn’t fit the 5ft 7in description of the real rapist.
Obviously offender profiling has, in some cases, been successful. But in this case a whole lot of people were wrong… Including some of the media personnel.
It’s a good job the judge in Stagg’s court case had some sense and realised there was lack of hard evidence available to convict.

I thought the whole story was an interesting read - I particularly liked this. Stagg's on TV tonight on BBC One at 10.35pm, despite the fact he said he'd never have anything to do with the media again.

Comments

I suspect the depiction of forensic psyschology in television drama may play some role in promoting the delusion that offender profiling provides a magical short cut to a successful prosecution. Shows such as Cracker  and Wire in the Blood offer hard-pressed police officers examples that seem calculated to inspire false hope and inspire the public to mistake mumbo jumbo for empirical science. It is not hard to imagine how beguiling that must be to investigating officers when press and public are baying for blood.   

By TimLuckhurst