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Behavioural Sciences - Brochures

Behavioural Science involves the study of deviant human behaviour. Within the RCMP, “Behavioural Science” is an umbrella term representing a repertoire of investigative services aimed at understanding the dynamics of violent and/or serial crime and offenders and assisting the Canadian law enforcement community through the provision of information, advice, suggestions and strategies.

Based in Ottawa, the RCMP Behavioural Sciences Branch conducts research, develops policy and provides consultation to RCMP and other police services in Criminal Investigative Analysis, Geographic Profiling and Truth Verification. The branch also maintains the Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System (ViCLAS) as well as the National Sex Offender Registry. ViCLAS is a Canada-wide computer system that captures violent interpersonal offences investigated by police. Specially trained investigators, called ViCLAS Specialists, analyze and interpret reports of violent crimes for patterns and linkages to help identify serial crimes and offenders.


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Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System (ViCLAS) . . . making the connections

The ViCLAS National Policy Centre (NPC) establishes and monitors policy, procedures and minimum standards regarding the submission and analysis of crimes of interpersonal violence onto the ViCLAS database. The ViCLAS NPC provides the following services:

  • policy development, advice and direction for provincial ViCLAS centres;
  • program reviews and management;
  • strategic planning;
  • training development and delivery;
  • international liaison;
  • analysis of international cases;
  • negotiation of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and licence agreements; and
  • establishing minimum ViCLAS standards.


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National Sex Offender Registry . . . helping police investigate crimes of a sexual nature

The National Sex Offender Registry is a national registration system for sex offenders who have been convicted of designated sexual offences under Section 490.011 of the Criminal Code of Canada and ordered by the courts to report annually to police.

During the registration process, police enter information on these individuals into a database that is accessible by all accredited police agencies through their provincial/territorial registration centre.

Time is of the essence when locating sexual predators and investigating crimes committed by these offenders. The National Sex Offender Registry assists police in the investigation of crimes of a sexual nature by providing up-to-date information related to convicted sex offenders and identifying all registered sex offenders living within a particular geographic area.

A search of the database should be requested early in the investigation in cases where the crime is sexual in nature, where the offender is unknown, and where help is needed to narrow the focus of the investigation.


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Criminal Investigative Analysis . . .
providing insight and experience

Criminal Investigative Analysis (CIA) is an investigative tool used to assist the law enforcement community in solving violent crimes.
It is an analysis based on a review of evidence from the crime scene and from witnesses and victims. The analysis is done from both an investigative and a behavioural perspective. The CIA provides insight into the unknown offender (characteristics and traits) as well as investigative suggestions and interview and trial strategies.

A CIA cannot replace a thorough investigation, and the accuracy and detail of a CIA is limited by the accuracy and detail of the information on which it is based. CIA services can assist in the investigation of interpersonal violence, particularly homicide and sexual assault cases. CIA is suitable for single-incident or serial cases with one or more victims, including homicides, sexual assaults, child abductions, hostage-taking, bombings, and arson for example.

CIA analysts have been certified by the International Criminal Investigative Analysis Fellowship to provide analysis of criminal behaviour. They offer consulting services to investigators including:

  • Personality Profile: A detailed behavioural analysis to derive information
    about an unknown offender.
  • Indirect Personality Assessment: An assessment of a known individual believed to be responsible for committing a violent crime.
  • Equivocal Death Analysis: An in-depth crime scene reconstruction undertaken to provide an opinion on the manner of death (e.g. homicide, suicide, accidental death, death by natural causes, or death by misadventure).
  • Assessment of Threat or Extortion Communications: The analyst examines a threat or extortion communication for content and stylistic characteristics to assess the validity of the threat and the level of risk to the victim and suggest ways to minimize the risk.
  • Consulting to Provide Expert Analysis: A CIA analyst can provide services such as crime scene reconstruction; expert evidence/reports to coroner’s inquest; analysis of stalking cases; research on unusual areas of expert examination; and consultation on media strategy and releases, to name a few.

CIA services should be requested early in the investigation in cases where the crime is one of interpersonal violence, where most investigative leads have been exhausted, and/or where special circumstances exist.



Geographic Profiling . . .
zeroing in on serial offenders

Geographic Profiling is an investigative aid that predicts the serial offender’s most likely location including home, work, social venues and travel routes. Using information from a series of related crimes, a Geographic Profiler uses a mathematical model to analyze the locations of the crimes and the characteristics of the local neighbourhoods to produce a map showing the areas in which the offender most likely lives and works.

Geographic Profiling helps focus investigative efforts on the probable location of the suspect, within an area defined by the “geoprofile”. It has the potential to reduce the time and effort spent investigating and apprehending an offender. Geographic Profiling complements usual investigative techniques and is best used together with Criminal Profiling.

Geographic Profiling is useful in serial crime when the offender is unknown. A minimum of five crimes or related sites are required for a complete profile, however some forms of analysis can be done with less. It is used most often for violent crimes such as homicides and missing bodies; sexual assault; predatory crimes such as child molestation; bombings; arson; robbery and break and entry; and other multiple location crimes such as exposings, telephone harassment, and credit card theft.

Geographic Profiling services should be requested early in the investigation in cases where the crime is serial in nature, where the offender is unknown, where help is needed to narrow the focus of the investigation, and/or where special circumstances exist.


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Truth Verification . . .
focusing investigative efforts

The Truth Verification Section provides investigative support services in the use of truth verification methods and leadership in research and development as well as the continuous evaluation of the techniques currently employed.

Truth verification techniques assist investigators in determining the veracity of subjects including complainants, victims, witnesses, persons of interest, suspects and charged or accused persons. Although the opinion of the truth verification specialist is not intended for court purposes, the service provides focus to investigations.

  • The Polygraph Instrument is a device designed to detect and record physiological functions of the body, such as pulse rates, increases and decreases in blood pressure, respiration rate and changes in electrodermal activity. Under controlled conditions, a Polygraph examiner can evaluate physiological changes that determine if they are consistent with truthfulness or attempted deception.
  • Statement Analysis is a scientific approach that combines many disciplines including linguistics, psychology, sociology, criminology and psychiatry to form a systematic method of analyzing speech patterns to determine if statements originated in memory or imagination. The method presents an effective method for obtaining information and detecting deception strictly by means of verbal communication, oral or written.
  • Forensic Hypnosis is useful in eliciting information from a complainant, victim or witness. Hypnosis is intended to enhance memory recall and not to establish the truth. Since subjects can confabulate during a hypnotic session, the accuracy of all information obtained through hypnosis must be verified and/or corroborated through careful investigation.


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Research and Development . . .
the empirical study of the criminal mind
and human behaviour

As a centre for behavioural science research, the Research and Development Section strives to advance theoretical knowledge through applied empirical research in the areas of deviant human behaviour and the investigative techniques used to identify and capture violent and/or serial offenders.

The Research and Development Section:

  • manages/oversees and conducts behavioural science research;
  • networks and develops research partnerships/collaborations to facilitate research in the field; and
  • keeps abreast of the current state of behavioural science research, understanding the implications of study findings and applying theoretical and empirical knowledge to current practices, to the benefit of the Canadian law enforcement community.

Research areas include sexual offending and offenders, violent crime linkage, criminal investigative analysis and geographic profiling, polygraph and other truth verification techniques, risk and threat assessment, offence patterns, and violent offender typologies, among others.