30 Jan 2023


How to Write a Reflective Annotated Bibliography

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Criminal psychology is concerned with the behavior of criminals. Criminal psychologists attempt to explain why criminals commit a crime and attempt to make sense of their actions. Criminal psychology is challenging, but applications of technology make certain aspects of criminal psychology easier (Ferguson & Orgloff, 2011). Since the primary role of the criminal psychologist is to understand criminal behavior, this paper focuses on the role of technology in criminal profiling.

Alison, L., Goodwill, A., Almond, L., Heuvel, C., & Winter, J. (2010). Pragmatic solutions to offender profiling and behavioral investigative advice. Legal and criminological psychology, 15 (1), 115-132.

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Alison, Goodwill, Almond, Heuvel, & Winter (2010) examine the history of offender profiling and the technologies and models used in profiling from 1970 to 1990s. According to the article, criminal profiling has gained popularity today, and the police now require the input of criminal psychologists more in solving crimes. In the past, criminal profiling was not effective, and the models and technologies used attracted a lot of controversies. The authors conclude that an effective offender model will only be developed when the police and psychologists collaborate and take advantage of technology.

The article uses an extensive meta-analysis to differentiate the traditional and contemporary approach to offender profiling. The study concludes that the contemporary approach or rather the statistical approach to offender profiling is more efficient as it takes advantage of modern analytical technology tools.



Behavior investigative advice

Tacit knowledge


Clinical profiling


The article is a comprehensive history of criminal profiling since the 1970s. Though the article does not necessarily focus on technology use, it explores the challenges of the traditional offender profiling methods. For example, the Criminal Investigative Approach developed in the 1970s by the FBI was the first model to take advantage of available information on violent offenses to make inferences about the suspect; nonetheless, the method was vulnerable to cognitive biases. From the article, I learned that offender profiling technology had come a long way. In today’s society, there are databases, models, and filter technology that enables police and psychologists to make sense of the vast amount of criminal data. The article is quite useful; it describes the developments in offender profiling and the challenges that affect offender profiling today.


1. “Establishing 'what works' is an applied endeavor requiring pragmatic approaches and solid partnerships between academics and their police counterparts.” P. 116

2. “Clinical profiling approaches appeared to be primarily based on the expertise and knowledge of the individual profiler.” P.118

3. “The adoption of filter-style models is another emerging approach that has direct investigative use and has had some empirically validated success.” P. 121

4. “Yet another emerging area of research, which may potentially bridge the gaps between prediction of offender characteristics, situational aspects of the offense, and the analyses of offense behavior, is the utilization of probabilistic research methods.” P.122

Canter, D., Hammond, L., Youngs, D., & Juszczak, P. (2013). The efficacy of ideographic models for geographical offender profiling. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 29 (3), 423-446.


The article by Canter et al. (2013) explores the efficacy of ‘geographical offender profiling’ methods. The main point of the article is that the effectiveness of the models depends on the distance and the geographical area covered. Geographical offender profiling attempts to predict the behaviors of serial offenders based on their locations. The article uses data from different technological models; particularly the Gaussian-based density analysis, minimum spanning tree (MST), and regression-based analysis are used in geographic profiling to determine the most efficient model. The article concludes that offenders vary by location; hence there is a need to create technological models that address the unique needs of each location.


Computer algorithms

Geographical profiling




Ideographic model


Geographical profiling is founded on the assumption that criminals commit crimes in familiar places. The authors evaluate different profiling methods to identify which profiling technology is the best. Each profiling method is described in detail, and this shows that the authors are experts on the issue.

From the article, I learned that there are different approaches to geographic profiling, and the police have the choice to use whatever option that works best for each individual crime and location.

Additionally, the authors use a dataset of 63 burglaries in the UK to test the best model. The article is conclusive and it summarizes all the aspects of the different geographical offender profiling method. A significant shortcoming is that the article fails to recommend which geographical profiling methods work best for different locations and crimes. Also, the sample used the study is small; hence the results might not be reliable.


1. “There has consequently been debate about which of a range of different forms of function might most appropriately summarize crucial features of criminal spatial behavior” p. 424

2. “Bennell et al. (2009) also showed that the accuracy of these predictions could be enhanced by calibrating the empirical probabilities using information from established generic decay functions.” P.425

3. “Furthermore, human beings cannot be used effectively to search large databases in order to prioritise offenders as Canter and Hammond (2007) have shown computer systems can do very efficiently.” P.425

4. “It is also important to note that Bayesian models omit the possibility of exploring actual geographical distribution of crime series, instead focusing on overall probabilities of relationships between offence and offender home locations, and have thus not been able to explore the impact of dominant axes on the relationship between crimes and offender’s base.” P.426

Colombini, C., & Colella, A. (2011). Digital profiling: A computer forensics approach. In International Conference on Availability, Reliability, and Security (pp. 330-343). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.


Colombini & Colella (2011) assert that investigations are more difficult today than they were in the past. There is an enormous amount of evidence, and most of them are in electronic or rather digital form with regards to cyber crime. The vast amount of evidence can easily make police officers lose sight of the investigation process in cases where the crime.

The article concludes that a more effective way of profiling cyber criminals should be developed. The strategy should complement traditional criminal profiling by using the evidence left on the computer system to develop a compatible digital profile that can be used to track the criminal.


Modus operandi

Data mining

Digital profiling

Registry file

Embedded devices


From the article, I learned that digital profiling aims at extracting information from digital devices to help computer analysts to make sense of the vast information and to aid in the creation of a digital profile. Digital profiling is common in most criminal movies today, where computer experts use different software to track criminal activities and find the solution to a crime.

The article is a comprehensive description of the digital profiling process. It describes in detail the process of digital investigation, the necessary tools, and models to enable profiling. Though the information is extremely technical, it has the step by step guide which can be used by digital profilers and psychologists to combat the increasing cases of cyber crime today.

I agree with the authors that digital profiling should be pursued more often to supplement traditional profiling. In today’s digital society, individuals are constantly leaving digital footprints that can link them to crime.


1. “The development of modern technology has led to an evolution in the role of digital devices that, now, turned from data containers to a sort of "digital diaries." P.330

2. “The Digital Profiling is based on a method that includes mining, comparison and recognition of digital profiles of a user digital device.” P.331

3. “The creation of model starts from the study of information characterizing the detected files on a PC and the devices based on the memory capacity, and for high degree of customization allowed by all available applications.” P.331

4. “Digital profiling techniques can also be applied to the contents of storage areas provided in remote provider and data streams selected for example in a certain time on a computer attack.” P. 343

Cotton, C., & Li, C. (2015). Profiling, Screening, and Criminal Recruitment. Journal of Public Economic Theory, 17 (6), 964-985.


The authors model criminal activity in the form of a game whereby law enforcement officers choose the rate that they will use to screen different groups and criminal organizations. Police officers use observable characteristics in screening. The study also describes the common criminal activities that the police screen in certain locations. For example, police officers use a wide range of screening technological tools at their disposal to screen for smuggled goods and terrorist-related products at the borders and airports.

The method of study used a simulated model to show how police approach the concept of profiling and how it affects their work. The authors concluded that the most effective criminal profiling model should impose reasonable restrictions on police officers because a lot of restrictions reduce their ability to explore the effectiveness of the model.


Decentralized crime

Criminal recruitments

Racial profiling




The authors attempt to explore the issue of discrimination with regards to criminal profiling. While the models and technologies used in criminal profiling have improved, officer bias and stereotyping still affect the criminal profiling process. Thus the issue of profiling has attracted a lot of controversies in the past.

I do not agree with the article’s conclusion that reasonable restrictions should be applied to the issue of criminal profiling. Statistics show that certain races and groups tend to be screened and profiled unfairly, while others get away with the crime. The model should be applied equally to all groups, and restrict the influence of personal bias in the work of police officers. The authors also used one model to come to the conclusion that equal treatment of two groups does not improve police effectiveness. The authors should have created different models to see if they would produce the same results.


1. “Profiling in law enforcement activities refers to the use of an individual’s race, ethnicity, or other observable characteristics by officers when determining whether to stop, search, screen, or otherwise engage in law enforcement.” P.965

2. “At borders, airports, and other security checkpoints, law enforcement is primarily concerned with preventing major crime such as smuggling and terrorism.” P.965

3. “Law enforcement is most effective when the profiling restriction requires only marginally more fair treatment than occurs without restriction.” P.967

4. “Imposing a more restrictive constraint requires that law enforcement shift resources away from screening the group with an active criminal population to a group with no active recruitment.” P.980

McMullan, J. L., & Perrier, D. C. (2007). Controlling Cyber‐Crime and Gambling: Problems and Paradoxes in the Mediation of Law and Criminal Organization. Police Practice and Research, 8 (5), 431-444.


McMullan & Perrier (2007) explore the issue of cyber crime and the challenges in profiling cyber criminals. Cyber criminals are unique, and they find it easier to evade the law in comparison to common criminals. The authors argue that the legal control and security should be translated into practical enforcement activities to combat the rising cases of cyber crime.

The study uses a cyber-criminal scheme that defrauded electronic gambling machines in Canada to explore how cyber crime operates. The article attempts to explore the rationality for cyber crime, and the rising cases of cyber crime. Cyber criminals take advantage of the vulnerabilities in the system and blame their activities on the organizations for failing to put in place effective measures against cyber crime.


Cyber crime





Electronic embezzlement


The article shows how technology has changed the landscape for the crime. Criminals have now found ways to engage in crime from the comfort of their homes, making the work of criminal psychologists more difficult than before. Cyber criminals are different from other criminals, and they are posing a challenge to criminal psychologists.

The authors explore the difficulties in dealing with cyber criminals, as they are not like everyday offenders and they tend to justify their actions claiming that it is the responsibility of organizations to put in place effective cyber security. Cyber criminals look for vulnerabilities in random systems to evade police; hence it is hard to profile them. The authors give specific ways of understanding and predicting cyber criminal behavior, but it might not apply to all situations since the study focused on cyber crime involving electronic gambling machines.


1. “Computer crime may be defined broadly as ‘the destruction, theft, or unauthorized or illegal use, modification or copying of information, programs, services, equipment or communication networks.” P.434

2. “In addition, they developed simulation methods that reduced the dangers of being discovered while perpetrating their attacks.” P. 437

3. “Compliance systems create conformity by providing positive economic incentives such as profit sharing and by using management tools such as guidelines, machine standards, operating policies, technical product specifications, etc. to try to prevent unwanted problems before they occur.” P. 441

4. “The modus operandi of the cyber-criminals involved choosing random target sites that nullified the ability of police to conduct surveillance based upon patterned group activities.” P.442


Alison, L., Goodwill, A., Almond, L., Heuvel, C., & Winter, J. (2010). Pragmatic solutions to offender profiling and behavioural investigative advice. Legal and criminological psychology , 15 (1), 115-132.

Canter, D., Hammond, L., Youngs, D., & Juszczak, P. (2013). The efficacy of ideographic models for geographical offender profiling. Journal of Quantitative Criminology , 29 (3), 423-446.

Colombini, C., & Colella, A. (2011). Digital profiling: A computer forensics approach. In International Conference on Availability, Reliability, and Security (pp. 330-343). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Cotton, C., & Li, C. (2015). Profiling, Screening, and Criminal Recruitment. Journal of Public Economic Theory , 17 (6), 964-985.

Ferguson, M., & Ogloff, J. R. (2011). Criminal responsibility evaluations: Role of psychologists in assessment. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law , 18 (1), 79-94.

McMullan, J. L., & Perrier, D. C. (2007). Controlling Cyber‐Crime and Gambling: Problems and Paradoxes in the Mediation of Law and Criminal Organization. Police Practice and Research , 8 (5), 431-444.

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