A Framework to Measure/Assess the Utility of Profiling as a Counterterrorism Tool

McGuirk, Noel (2021) A Framework to Measure/Assess the Utility of Profiling as a Counterterrorism Tool. Policing: Journal of Policy and Practice, 15 (2). pp. 848-858. ISSN 1751-4512

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The assessment of the usefulness of terrorist profiling is often conflated with an exaggerated presentation of the threat of terrorism as a basis to justify the use of terrorist profiling or an exaggerated impact of terrorist profiling as a basis to criticize its use by law enforcement officers. There is a considerable gap in the literature on terrorist profiling which fails to present a framework that can objectively engage in assessing/measuring the usefulness of terrorist profiling. The continued prevalence of terrorism continues to necessitate the existence of counterterrorism frameworks that allow law enforcement officers deploy pre-emptive control strategies. However, the difficulty posed by the existence of these strategies is whether they can actually be considered capable of assisting law enforcement officers detect, deter, or prosecute those engaged in acts of terrorism or its associated preparatory activities. This article proposes to address this gap by firstly examining previous attempts at analysing the usefulness of terrorist profiling and the different approaches more generally adopted to measure the usefulness of counterterrorism strategies. This discussion is followed by a presentation of a workable framework that can be applied to different manifestations of terrorist profiling to begin considering its usefulness as a counterterrorist tool. This article ultimately concludes that any assessment of terrorist profiling requires an assessment of the processes used to construct profiles separately from the assessment of the application of terrorist profiling in the field with a further layer of assessing considering its broader impact to question its overall usefulness as a counterterrorism tool.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Policing: Journal of Policy and Practice
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This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Policing following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Noel McGuirk, A Framework to Measure/Assess the Utility of Profiling as a Counterterrorism Tool, Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, Volume 15, Issue 2, June 2021, Pages 848–858, https://doi.org/10.1093/police/paz056 is available online at: https://academic.oup.com/policing/article-abstract/15/2/848/5565255
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08 Oct 2019 12:30
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 19:51