Clinical versus actuarial geographic profiling strategies: A Review of the Research

Craig Bennell, Paul Taylor, Brent Snook

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Geographic profiling predictions can be produced using a variety of strategies. Some predictions are made using an equation or mechanical aid (actuarial strategy) while others are made by human judges drawing on experience or heuristic principles (clinical strategy). We review research that bears directly on the issue of whether clinical strategies can produce geographic predictions that rival those produced by actuarial strategies. Although there are certain advantages associated with actuarial strategies, we argue that clinical predictions based on fast and frugal heuristics are useful. We support this argument with results from a meta?analysis of existing geographic profiling research. We conclude by outlining our position on the relative merits of clinical and actuarial strategies, and by proposing an agenda for future research that involves examining the relative performance of profiling strategies in operational settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-345
Number of pages11
JournalPolice Practice and Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Actuarial
  • Decision Aids
  • Geographic Profiling
  • Heuristics
  • Meta?analysis
  • Serial Crime
  • n/a OA procedure


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