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Top-Down Approach

The top-down approach to offender profiling is sometimes known as the American approach because it was the approach adopted by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) in the 1970s. It begins by looking carefully at the crime scene and drawing conclusions from the evidence found there about the offender. The profiler also looks at other cases (where criminals have been interviewed) in order to build a picture of typical offender profiles. Using all of this information a profile is built for the current offender ‘from the top down’. This method is typically used for more extreme crimes, such as murder and rape. Hazelwood and Douglas (1980) made a distinction between organised and disorganised types of offender.

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