Criminal psychologists play a crucial role in law enforcement

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Psychology as a discipline has many branches. The subject largely deals with human beings and their behavior in specific contexts. Criminal/forensic psychologists/investigators study criminal behavior and the factors that lead to or maintain these behaviors.

“The field has the potential to offer a very good career to young criminal psychologists. They can get jobs in the public and private sectors or can practice as freelance criminal/forensic psychologists, to help the police and the court analyze unusual criminal behavior and make judgments,” says Rita Kumar, Professor, Amity Institute of Psychology & Related Sciences (AIPS).

“Criminal psychology is a branch of psychology that studies the intentions and behaviors of those who commit illegal or criminal acts. However, the field encompasses much more than shedding light on a criminal’s psyche. It also plays a crucial role in how different laws are enforced,” says Dr. Satish Kumar, Head and Associate Professor, Department of Applied Psychology, University of Mumbai.

“The course is imperative for legal practitioners and helps them understand the motives and actions of defendants while working on a case. Additionally, criminal profilers aim to determine possible suspects by analyzing the crime scene through investigative psychology and also collaborate with forensic psychologists or criminal anthropologists. These experts attempt to identify the personality profile, lifestyle habits or any behavioral abnormalities that may help law enforcement identify the perpetrators,” Kumar explains.

These courses are usually offered at postgraduate or MPhil and PhD levels in India, says Devvarta Kumar, Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, NIMHANS, Bangalore. “In India, specific courses related to forensic/investigative psychology are offered at Gandhinagar National Forensic Science University (NFSU). Apart from this, there are many foreign universities such as University of Liverpoolthe University of Huddersfield which provides specialist courses in this area,” he says.

Criminal Psychology and forensic psychology are rather niche fields in India and are still growing, says Havovi Hyderabadwalla, Consulting Psychologist, Forensic Analysis Consultancy & Training Services (FACTS). “Few universities offer the Criminal Psychology course in India. It is usually available as a degree or certificate course. Many colleges also offer the course as a module or elective. For students pursuing a degree in forensic psychology in India, the ideal would be to obtain a master’s degree in forensic psychology, which is offered by a few universities. It would be easier for students to find the criminal psychology course globally,” she explains.

At Amity University, the curriculum structure of a postgraduate degree in criminal psychology includes an understanding of criminal psychology, forensic psychology, research methods used in the field, and administration and police investigations. It also includes psychological assessment and criminal profiling of criminals.

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