PROFILING THE MISSING
Profiling as a methodology:
Victimology and foul play;
While examination of the motive(s) underlying pre-disappearance behaviour (functional analysis) and behavioural consistency theory are theoretical perspectives guiding the development of a profile, psychological autopsy and victimology theory are tools that further specify relevant detail and appropriate perspective. In the present study, psychological autopsy and victimology are as much a methodology as a theory, due mainly to the emphasis on the practical requirements of data collection.
Victimology, a branch of criminology, attempts to understand crime and the criminal in society through increasing knowledge about the victim, rather than the perpetrator of a crime. Victimology is first and foremost an investigative tool, providing context, connections, and investigative direction ... Unless we know who a victim is, or was, and how they lived, we cannot say that we truly know the context of their disappearance, or the events leading up to it.
The challenge with missing persons cases, however, is that this investigative tool is being used, not to aid the apprehension of the perpetrator, but to determine what reasons the person may have for being missing. This is central CRI's task when a missing person report is received. A number of different factors need to be considered when assessing risk for foul play. This distinguishes between those who are at risk for victimisation by someone known, such as a family member, or someone unknown. Making this distinction is dependent on the person’s lifestyle factors, such as being involved in drugs or prostitution, as well as social circumstances, such as being in an abusive relationship.
Weighing up these kinds of factors helps the investigator to determine type of risk. Risk can also be categorised according to what our Operatives identifies as lifestyle risk and incident risk. Lifestyle risk refers to the missing person’s personality, and their personal, professional and social environments. Inspection of the person’s routine habits and any other notable circumstances provide the investigator with some idea of whether there was the increased likelihood of harm.
Personality is also an important factor contributing towards one’s risk for victimisation, and various types of dispositions, such as aggression, impulsivity, and depression, as additional factors that need to be considered in addition to lifestyle risk.