Practitioner Members

Serious Crime Analysis Section, National Crime Agency, United Kingdom

The National Crime Agency’s Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS) was established in January 1998 as a response to the 1982 Byford Report, commissioned in response to the Yorkshire Ripper murders and subsequent investigation. The report found that the Ripper enquiry portrayed a lack of communication between police forces which could lead to problems with detecting and/or linking offences. Consequently, Lord Byford recommended one common dataset.

Using the in-house ViCLAS database, SCAS’ primary objective is to identify the potential emergence of serial killers and serial rapists at the earliest stage of their offending. The unit holds the national remit to support serious stranger sexual offence and murder investigations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. According to a Code of Practice, UK forces are required to submit case information for offences meeting SCAS collection criteria (e.g. stranger rapes, serious sexual offences and sexually motivated murders). Once cases are received, SCAS staff capture a detailed account of offence behaviour on the ViCLAS database before providing analytical assistance and conducting comparative case analysis (CCA) to identify serial offending and persons of interest.

For cases falling within SCAS criteria or instances where there is intelligence to suggest that a nominal has previously committed a SCAS criteria offence, the Serious Crime Analysis Section offer a number of analytical products, ranging from behavioural analysis to enhanced searching across national datasets and enhanced prioritisation of familial DNA products. SCAS services also include the provision of statistical support for Bad Character Applications and Similar Fact Evidence for court to assist in the prosecution and conviction of offenders.

Behavioural Investigative Advisors, National Crime Agency, UK

The term ‘profiling’ (as in ‘offender profiling’, ‘criminal profiling’, or ‘psychological profiling’) was first regularly used by members of the FBI Behavioural Science Unit who defined it as the process of drawing inferences about a suspect’s characteristics from details of his or her actions exhibited during the commission if a crime.

The role of the contemporary ‘profiler’ has undergone significant evolution in recent times. Beginning in the UK, the emergence of Behavioural Investigative Advice (BIA) as a distinct profession best exemplifies this shift in focus from the traditional, narrow view of “offender profiling” to a discipline which now encompasses a broad range of scientifically based yet pragmatic activities related to supporting police investigations, including: crime scene assessment and hypothesis generation/prioritisation; offence linkage analysis; predictive profiling; nominal generation; prioritisation matrices; investigative suggestions; media advice; search advice; and familial DNA prioritisation. Whilst all of the products and services available offer tactical or strategic solutions in their own right, all are underpinned by a broader philosophy of adding value to the decision making of the SIO, through an enhanced understanding of the offence and offender from a perspective different from that routinely employed within major crime investigation teams. The aim of such contributions is to enhance the scientific method of the investigative process through appropriate provision of hypotheses, evidence-based prioritisation of the ‘most likely’ (offender characteristics, sequence of events, motivation, etc.), and associated decision support strategies, grounded firmly in psychological principles and available empirical research findings.

All Behavioural Investigative Advice in the UK is delivered through NPCC (National Police Chief’s Council) Approved BIAs employed directly by the National Crime Agency (NCA) Major Crime Investigative Support section (MCIS). Whilst the majority of their work is directed towards serious sexual and homicide offences, their services are utilised for other crime types (e.g. extortion, arson, online intelligence assessment, etc.) as appropriate. For a comprehensive review of contemporary BIA practice, see Rainbow, L. & Gregory, A. (2011). ‘What Behavioural Investigative Advisers actually do’, in L. Alison and L. Rainbow (eds), Professionalizing Offender Profiling: Forensic and Investigative Psychology in Practice. London: Routledge.

Investigative Psychology Section (IPS), South Africa


The Investigative Psychology Section (IPS) in the South African Police Service (SAPS) was established in 1997 to assist with the investigation of psychologically motivated crimes. The initial focus of the IPS was on serial murder investigations. However the Section’s scope has expanded over the years to include a wide variety of psychologically motivated crimes.

The SAPS is one of the few law enforcements agencies in the world that has a full-time section that is dedicated to providing this type of specialised service to investigating officers. This type of service can also be referred to as offender profiling, criminal investigative analysis or behavioural investigative advice.

Psychologically motivated crimes are crimes that typically have no external (usually financial) motive and include crimes like:

  • Serial murders and serial rapes
  • Sexual murders
  • Muti murders
  • Cannibalism
  • Child sex crimes
  • Intimate partner murders
  • Child abductions and kidnappings
  • Mass murders and spree murders

Services offered

The Section provides:

  • Investigative support to detectives
  • Courtroom assistance to prosecutors in the form of expert evidence or advice

The Section regularly provides training to detectives, crime scene personnel, prosecutors and members of the Department of Correctional Services with regards to the types of unique crime investigations that the Section deals with.

The Section has an operational research team which engages in and facilitates research in the field of Investigative Psychology.