Research

Research

THE INVESTIGATIVE PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH UNIT (IPRU)

The IPRU is focused on Practitioner Focused Research, and our focus is to provide training to support Evidence Led Practice within the criminal justice system. Much of our research is done in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, clinicians, and other practitioners internationally, and by consulting with practitioners on key needs, we base our research on practice informed questions, and through research, we ultimately aim to provide empirically based and relevant research to support evidence-based training. The IPRU focuses on two areas of research and training as they pertain to law enforcement practice:

  • Investigative Psychology 
  • Positive Psychology
     

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INVESTIGATIVE PSYCHOLOGY

Investigative Psychology (IP) is the application of psychology to the criminal investigation process. IP look at how bets to retyrieve information from the crime scene, make decisions about it, and apply it to the analysi 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. 

CURRENT 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 examinedPublications relating to the HIP Project:

  • Salfati, C. G. & Sorochinski, M. (2021, under review) The Final Frontier: Examining The Empirical Evidence For Offender Profiling In Serial Crime Investigations. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology Special issue on Police Investigations and Investigative Practices. 
  • 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. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X19839279
  • 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. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X19839274
  • 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

Information coming soon

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

POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY

Positive Psychology is the science of promoting well-being and optimized lives. It is a new branch of psychology that uses scientific understanding and interventions to aid in the achievement of a flourishing life. As such it provides an additional piece to psychology by focusing not on the treatment of dysfunction, but rather on the enhancement and strengthening of human functioning. IPRU work in this area focuses on training of critical skills that allow first responders to become resilient and positive practitioners. Professionals within the caring professions, particularly in the sub-field of Forensic Psychology often work with challenging and high risk populations and in situations such as mental health and crime, and are often entering first responder jobs that require long or shift hours in high risk and high stress situations such as prisons, hospitals, law enforcement and the courts, and working with clients facing emotional, psychological and legal challenges. It is well documented that professionals within these fields often suffer high levels of stress, exhaustion and burnout due to the emotional nature of their jobs. Practitioners in these fields therefore need high levels of resilience skills and resources in order to withstand the demands of these types of careers, protect their own well-being. Healthy and flourishing people lead to professionals who lead with a disposition and energy that has a positive impact on their clients and organizations, and as such function at a higher level of effectiveness as professionals, and in addition possess the toolkits to advise their clients and organizations to flourish.

CURRENT PROJECTS

Law Enforcement RESilience (RES) Project

Law enforcement and other first responder occupations are inherently stressful, often linked to high rates of mental health issues that far surpass those of the general population. Studies have identified Resilience as a teachable skillset that few are taught, but everyone needs, particularly when dealing with times of change and adversity. Resilience training is proactive and gives officers skills in advance of adversity, which can mitigate various mental health issues that can result from adversity and trauma. 

The current research, in collaboration with law enforcement organizations as well as other first responder organizations such as corrections, psychological services and the fire service, aims to evaluate the impact of resilience training programs with the ultimate goal of 
  • Measuring wellbeing of participants prior to training to obtain baseline numbers on officer wellness, as well as compassion fatigue and burnout
  • Measuring types of adversities most prevamt for first responders in their personal lives, as well as in their professional lives, including operational and organizational
  • Understanding the impact of resilience training on the ability to deal with situations of adversity
  • Identifying the most impactful resilience tools to enable targeted training programs
  • Identifying the most impactful ways of deleivering resilience training to first repsonders to enable best practice in training

Webinars:

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