Computerized crime linkage systems are meant to assist the police in determining whether crimes have been committed by the same offender. In this article, the authors assess these systems critically and identify four assumptions that affect the effectiveness of these systems. These assumptions are that (a) data in the systems can be coded reliably, (b) data in the systems are accurate, (c) violent serial offenders exhibit consistent but distinctive patterns of behavior, and (d) analysts have the ability to use the data in the systems to link crimes accurately. The authors argue that there is no compelling empirical support for any of the four assumptions, and they outline a research agenda for testing each assumption. Until evidence supporting these assumptions becomes available, the value of linkage systems will remain open to debate.
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Criminal Justice and Behavior, 39 (5), 2012, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2012 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Criminal Justice and Behavior page: http://cjb.sagepub.com/ on SAGE Journals Online: http://online.sagepub.com/