Investigative Psychology

Investigative Psychology (IP) is the application of psychology to the criminal investigation process. IP looks at how best to retrieve information from the crime scene, make decisions about it, and apply it to the analysis of criminal behavior. The main aim of behavioral crime scene analysis, otherwise known as Offender Profiling, is to analyze the way an offender commits their crime, to establish discernable patterns of behavioral sub-types or series, and then link sub-types of crime scene actions to the most likely offender background characteristics, and use this in criminal investigations as a primary tool for the police to narrow their suspect pool down to statistically the most likely type of offender, and/or identify and link series of crimes. these areas have been the focus of this behavioral crime scene analysis and offender profiling research, and have been the elements that provides the basis for Evidence Led Practice, taught through our training courses to practitioners and researchers. 



Research Projects

Homicides Involving Prostitutes (HIP) Project

The HIP project focuses on homicides involving prostitutes and sex workers. This project aims to improve our understanding of the distinct behavioral patterns and types of offenders who exclusively target this high risk victim group, as well as our understanding of how victimization of prostitutes fits within a generalized pattern of non-target specific violence. Issues of solvability and behavioral linkage are also being examined. Publications relating to the HIP Project:

  • Salfati, C. G. & Sorochinski, M. (2023, in press) Linkage Blindness & Serial Homicides Involving Sex Worker Victims. Chapter in Eric Hickey, Jason Roach, Bethany Walters, and Jason Crowe (Eds.) Sex Crimes and Criminal Paraphilia. Cognella, Inc.
    ​Sorochinski, M., Salfati, C. G., Gupta, S.*, and Libretti, R.* (2023, in press) The Fourth Dimension: Timelines of Behavioral Change in Violent Serial Crime. The Police Journal
  • Sorochinski, M., Salfati, C. G., Gupta, S., and Libretti, R. (2021, under review) The Fourth Dimension: Timelines of Behavioral Change in Violent Serial Crime.  
  • Salfati, C. G. & Sorochinski, M. (2021) Evidence-Based Offender Profiling Of Serial Sex Worker Victim Homicides. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology Special issue on Police Investigations and Investigative Practices. https:/  
  • Salfati, C. G. & Sorochinski, M. (2019) MATCH: A New Approach for Differentiating & Linking Series of Sex Worker Homicides and Sexual Assaults. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. Special Issue on Sexual Homicide. 63, 9, 1794-1824.
  • Sorochinski, M. & Salfati, C. G. (2019) Sex Worker Homicide Series: Profiling The Crime Scene. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. Special Issue on Sexual Homicide. 63, 9, 1776-1793.
  • Salfati, C. G. & Sorochinski, M. (2018) Sex worker victims: Consistency vs inconsistency in victimization patterns by serial sexual homicide offenders. In J. Proulx, A. Carter, É. Beauregard, A. Mokros, R. Darjee, J. James (Eds.) International Handbook of Sexual Homicide. Chapter 32. Routledge.
  • Salfati, C. G. (2013) Linkage Analysis of Serial Murder Cases Involving Prostitute Victims. In J. Helfgott (Ed.) Criminal Psychology reference set. Volume 3, chapter 9, p. 211-228. Praeger Publishers, ISBN: 0313396078. 
  • Salfati, C. G. (2009) Prostitute Homicide: An Overview of the Literature and Comparison to Sexual and Non-Sexual Female Victim Homicide. In D. Canter, M. Ioannou, & D. Youngs (Eds.) Safer Sex in the City: The Experience and Management of Street Prostitution. The Psychology, Crime and Law Series. Chapter 4, p. 51-68. Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN: 978-0754626152

Sex Offender Profiling (SOP) Project

The SOP project is an interdisciplinary project looking at the relationship between behavioral crime analysis (i.e. offender profiling) and risk assessment of sex offenders. This project aims to combine the knowledge base from both of these fields in order to refine their core principles and improve upon both processes. Issues of behavioral consistency, salience, and outcome prediction are also addressed.  Publications relating to the SOP Project:

Offender Profiling (A2C) Project

The A2C project aims to answer the question: Does the Actions to Characteristics (A2C) equation work? Also known as the homology assumption, the A2C equation suggests that an empirical link may be drawn between aspects of a crime and features of the offender. This project reviews the A2C literature published over the last three decades, focusing largely on the type of crimes examined, the methods by which these crimes were analyzed, whether support was found for the A2C equation, and whether support was established through itemized or thematic correlations. Limitations to offender profiling are addressed, recommendations for future research are proposed, and implications for the successful application of the A2C equation are discussed.  

  • Salfati, C. G. & Olivier, K.* (ongoing) Offender Profiling - Can We Successfully Link the Crime Scene to Offender Characteristics: A Systematic Review of the Research

The Homicide Profiling Index Revised to Include Rape & Sexual Offenses (HPI-R)

The Homicide Profiling Index – Revised to include Rape and Sexual Offenses (HPI-R©) (Salfati, 2010) is a coding dictionary designed to be used as a tool for collecting data via police case files. It was first created in 1994 and has since then been refined, with several key changes made in order to stay up to date regarding the direction that homicide crime scene research has been heading in. The most notable change in the HPI-R is the addition of variables pertaining to live victims, including rape/sexual assault offenses. This is a direct response to the argument that an offender’s series often includes multiple types of crimes, and each crime is of importance when conducting research and analyzing influences on offender behavioral consistency over a series (Salfati, 2008). The HPI-R contains over 300 variables and involves the scoring of pre-crime, crime, post-crime, offender background and victimology behaviors and characteristics.  The overall reliability of the use of the HPI-R post-training is 89.5%. Training and Certification from the IPRU is available to students, researchers, analysts, investigators and other practitioners. 

More Information

Evidence Based Training (EBT) Project

In order to fully understand the issues practitioners face when applying what they have learnt into practice, a more practical understanding must be had of the exact issues practitioners face post-training when aiming to ‘translate’ what they have learnt to their day to day practice. Feedback from practitioners on the issues that occur when aiming to implement training is key as part of a full understanding of the process of evidence-led-practice, and its implementation. Related to this may be a number of influencing and contributing factors. Ultimately, all of these factors will inter-relate on the success of the outcome of the training, as evidenced by the ability of the practitioner to implement the training objectives into practice. Work in the IPRU currently focuses on best practice in training and implementation of research into practice, as a basis for Evidence Based Practice. 

Informed Decision Making (IDM) Project

The major task of a police investigation is typically to collect, asses and utilize a great variety of sources of information that provide accounts of crime. Closely related to the process of information retrieval is the decision making that follows. The main challenge to investigators is to make important decisions. A lot of information, much of which may be of unknown reliability, needs to be amassed and digested. The general literature in decision making psychology shows us that these are conditions that may lead to biases in thought processes, and consequently decision making. Recognition of the potential for these problems can lead to the development of procedures to reduce their likelihood. Current work focuses on investigators as decision makers, with the aim of highlighting how the perception of information can influence the decision making process. Work in the IPRU on this topic currently focuses on achieving Evidence Based Practice through process and context informed decision making, and focuses on two key areas:

  • The internal cognitive processes of the decision maker as the primary point of focus in any decision making context
  • The external situation i.e. crime scene analysis

Additional Publications

  • For all publications from the IPRU go to our publications page: Publications

Contact Us