1Bond University, Robina, Australia
Stranger sexual assault is a difficult crime to solve, with a high cost to both victims and society (Abrahams et al., 2014). As policing has become more proactive, methods such as case linkage analysis have been formalised and enhanced to assist investigations. Case linkage examines the similarities and differences of behaviours across multiple offences to link similar crimes and identify potential serial rapists (Woodhams & Bennell, 2015). These links can help investigators collaborate to identify and apprehend serial offenders quickly.
For case linkage to be successful, it is assumed that a serial rapist will behave relatively consistently across his offences yet distinctively compared to other offenders (Canter, 2004). Inherent in this is the assumption that serial offenders can be distinguished from non-serial offenders. As this has yet to be fully examined in Australia, the current research analyses offence behaviours of serial and non-serial rapists in Queensland to determine more clearly whether these assumptions are valid. Two hundred and fifty solved stranger rapes have been identified from Queensland Police Service crime records. Specifically, this research seeks to answer three questions: 1. Do serial rapists (as a group) display behaviours that are distinct to non-serial rapists? 2. Do serial rapists (individually) behave distinctively compared to other serial rapists as well as non-serial rapists? 3. Can offence behaviours predict whether an offender is serial or not? Preliminary findings of data analysis will be provided to begin to answer these questions, and the implications for practice and further research will be discussed.
**The author acknowledges the assistance provided by the Queensland Police Service. The views expressed in this material are those of the author and are not those of the Queensland Police Service. Responsibility for any errors of omission or commission remains with the author. The Queensland Police Service expressly disclaims any liability for any damage resulting from the use of the material contained in this publication and will not be responsible for any loss, howsoever arising, from use of or reliance on this material.**
Serena Davidson is a PhD candidate at Bond University. Her research explores stranger rape offence behaviours in Queensland. Specifically, she is assessing whether serial and single rapists engage in significantly different behaviours during their offences, and whether those behaviours can be used to predict serial versus single rapist classification. She received her Master of Criminology from Bond in 2015 and BA in Psychology and Spanish from the University of New Mexico, USA in 2010, graduating summa cum laude. Miss Davidson plans to further her research with the aim of continuing to bridge the gap between criminology academia and investigative practice.