Psychological techniques of criminal investigation

With the change in technology the nature of crime has been changed. Such as with time internet-based crimes or criminal activities based on computer has been increased by leaps and bounds.

Psychological techniques of criminal investigationAt the same time development in technology has also evolved criminal detection techniques. Forensic word is originated from Latin word forensis meaning forum. Forum was the location where the disputes and crimes were resolved.

Now it has reached to the courtroom. The meaning has been modified with new developments. It is divided four major section that are legal, correctional, police, and criminal psychology.

Forensic psychology remains a young branch of applied psychology in the early 21st century. It has been documented by the APA in 2001 and recertified in 2008. In 1991, Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists were accepted by the American Psychology of Law Society, APA Division 41.

These Guidelines has been reviewed and retitled in 2013. Initially, forensic psychology was regarded as clinical and recently, its scope has widened to cover the psychological practices.

Psychological techniques are now being incorporated in order to identify criminals. Criminal psychologist assist investigators to observe and inspect physical evidences from the crime scene. They also help to develop an offender or criminal profile.

Criminal profiling is the practice in which psychologist using their knowledge and experience to make judgments, and figure out the personality traits of the culprits.Psychological assessment means to measure all the techniques that has been used to evaluate an individuals past, present and future status.

It also make use of psychological techniques, tools and measuring devices. They include psychological variables such as behavioral patterns, personality traits, psychopathologies and demographic variables such as geographic location, traditions, age or race.

The simplest technique of criminal detection is questioning. The investigation questions are designed to reveal their family background, social circle, personality and behavioral traits of the offender and victim. These questions are usually asked from the people present at crime scene and from expected culprits in the police stations.

The questions are not only structured but are also authentic as proven by forensic department. This technique is used for interrogation of 5Ws; who, when. what, where and most important why of the crime. The questioning technique consist of different ways. However, all of them are not equally productive.

First, the tradition way, in which the suspect is tortured physically as well as psychologically to accept the guilt. Second, relatively modern the reid technique in which the stress and anxiety level of the suspect is observed. However, both are not fully authentic as the innocent might gives same reaction in confusion/ under pressure.

Third, the good cop and bad cop technique in which the interrogator acts as well wisher of the suspect and he or she reveals the truth. Forth, the peace method, Preparation and Planning, Engage and Explain, Account, Closure and Evaluate. It is very straightforward. The trick is liar slowly create false explanation and keep on lying so get confused and confess the truth.

Psychological techniques uses common psychological tests for evaluation of criminal defendants such as violence risk appraisal test, sexual offender risk appraisal guide, personality assessment inventory, hare psychopathy checklist-revised etc.

Violence risk appraisal test is the instrument or tool that measures the likelihood of occurrence of further violent behavior among individuals who have already committed some crime or remain engaged in some criminal activity.

Sex offender appraisal test is a scale that is used to measure the probability of violent sexual recidivism by a person who has already been engaged in sexual crime due to mental illness. It can only be applied to men. Personality assessment inventory is a personality test. It is another tool that is used for psychopathological syndromes and clinical diagnosis of mental illness as well as their treatment.

Another tool that is used is Hare psychopathy checklist which is used for the individuals antisocial tendencies. It gives information about the factors or reasons that can lead to psychopathy. Hare psychopathy checklist makes use of semi-structured interview. These are few tests that are being used for evaluating criminal defendants.

Authors: Narmeen Ejaz and Muzammil Fayyaz from the department of Applied Linguistics, Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore.