The newly emerging area of Investigative Psychology provides a behavioural science basis for crime detection by examining investigative processes and criminal behaviour. It draws upon a range of material collected by law enforcement agencies that is not widely utilized in the social sciences. This may be regarded as a form of non-reactive, unobtrusive data that has many of the advantages originally promoted by Webb, Campbell, Schwartz and Sechrest (1966) and more recently explored by Lee (2000). The value of such data, derived from police sources, has been demonstrated in a variety of Investigative Psychology studies. However, law enforcement material is not usually collected as data but rather as evidence. Consideration is therefore given to how to address the challenges this poses. The unobtrusive measures derived from police investigations provide a different perspective on crime and other aspects of human actions from that based on more conventional sources of data such as questionnaires and interviews. To assist in the effective use of measures derived from police information a framework for considering this material is proposed reflecting the range of sources of measures that Lee (2000) identified; personal records, running records, physical traces, and simple observation. As in other areas, close attention to the methods of collecting such material can considerably improve its utility. The measures being utilized in Investigative Psychology therefore offer some fruitful directions for other areas of social science research. Development of these measures can also improve the effectiveness of criminal investigations.
Offender Profiling, Investigative Psychology, and Archives
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Recommended APA Citation
Canter, D., & Alison, L. J. (2003). Converting Evidence Into Data: The Use Of Law Enforcement Archives As Unobtrusive Measurement. The Qualitative Report, 8(2), 151-176. Retrieved from http://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol8/iss2/1