Profiling Paedophiles


I became intrigued by this subject following an appearance on Newsnight by CEOP’s former head Jim Gamble, when he explained that one of the first things that CEOP set about doing after it was created was to research the psychology of paedophiles so they could better understand offenders and no doubt identify behavioural and psychological markers. Jim Gamble only alluded to this comprehensive study in passing, remarking that self delusional justification for offending and attempting to portray themselves as the victim in some way were common and known  behavioural patterns in paedophiles.

This CEOP research is undoubtedly very useful and it is the kind of academic study that I’d really like to look at but I know that for very obvious reasons, I never will. Nor, without the wealth of data and access to the kind of expertise that CEOP could call on, would I have any chance of recreating such a study but that hasn’t stopped me thinking about the kind of applications such research could be put to.

One such application of paedophile profiling would be the identification of certain ‘offending types’.  Naturally, every individual offender must be unique but categorising offenders into types must be a very useful  tool because a man can do many things to attempt to disguise his physical appearance but it is almost impossible for him to change his psychological make-up. That psychological make-up may slowly evolve with time but it can’t be changed as simply as it is to wear a hat, grow a beard, or shaving off hair.

If we look at an extreme sexual offender like Sidney Cooke, what offender type would he be, how might an organisation like CEOP categorise him, what designation would he have ? We’ll start with the prefix SO for Sex Offender, then add an S for Sadist, and finally add a number on a scale from 1 to 5, in Cooke’s case 5, as a way of illustrating how extreme his offending was. Using this completely made up system we end up with an offender type for Sidney Cooke which is SO-S-5.

If we look at another sexual offender like Lord Janner based on the known accounts, we end up with a different offender type and designation. Lord Janner sought out what he considered loving relationships with young boys. I’m not in any way attempting to legitimise his offending by using that term, I’m simply trying to identify his psychological delusion. Janner would still have the same SO designation as Cooke but instead we’ll follow that with an PR for ‘pseudo-relationship’ and instead of a 5 we’ll give him a 3, after all despite the fact that Lord Janner was in a ‘pseudo-relationship’ with one boy for almost 2 years, he was not living full time with that boy which must be the extreme. So, using this system we end up with SO-PR-3 as Janner’s offending type.

I have no idea if CEOP or Police forces use a system of offender type designation like this. I suspect they do and I’m sure that it is far more sophisticated than my amateur efforts but what I do know, having followed many trials in the media, that similarities in multiple survivor testimony regarding an offender provides key corroborative evidence at  trial. In the trials of Max Clifford (SO-E-3, where E stands for ‘exploiter’)  and Dave Lee Travis (SO-E-1) it was the independent descriptions by victims of consistencies in the described offending that seemed key. [Note: this is why it is so important that survivors do not have contact before a trial]

So, what is going on if a known offender with an SO-PR-4 designation (for example) is described by a witness as exhibiting the behaviour consistent with an offender with an SO-S-5 designation ? It must be one of two things, either a) the information known and held by the police is incomplete or b) the witness testimony is inaccurate.

I think the public have in general a very over-simplified understanding of child sexual offenders and there is an inclination to unconsciously group them all together in one big group called ‘paedophiles’. This can lead to assumptions about the type of offending an offender is likely to be capable of. Sidney Cooke is an extreme example and thankfully his offending type is rare though I’ve no doubt that it as not as rare as convictions would suggest.



Filed under Abuse

43 responses to “Profiling Paedophiles

  1. Yes I think we must understand more to be able to deal with them better, but that gets short shrift from some who see this is being soft. The book Murder of childhood by Tim Tate and Ray Wyre is useful in this regard

    • chrisb

      Ray Wyre’s name, I believe, was on the Elm House lists. Of course this is no proof that he was there, as many paedophiles would have been aware of his work and could have used his name as a sick joke.

  2. Your profiling is interesting. How do you designate was a peadophile is? Sidney Cooke, was very violent, but he was not interested in inflicting pain as fas as I know, unlike some others in the news.
    His murder seems to have been due to over using amyl nitrate. Unlike the murders described by Nick.

    • The more sadistic practices aren’t always well known. Even in the appeal docs for Cooke’s conviction with regard to Jason Swift it is only euphemistically alluded to.

      • Sabre

        The DPP/CPS to this day are strangely shy about the charging decisions re Cooke and others. At least 3 ‘accidents’ with amyl nitrate and no murder charges, 6 year old Barry Lewis was still alive at the burial site so he was strangled compare and contrast with Beck’s 5 life sentences and zero deaths.

  3. Andy Barnett

    It’s so tempting to critique your categorisation system (need to add codes for preferred age and gender of victim, frequency of offending, means of sourcing victims,…) but I’ll resist it.

    • Hi Andy. Please feel free to critique. I hope it is clear that I’ve just made it up and I’ve just put it forward for others to consider and discuss.

      • Sabre

        Personally I’d proceed cautiously, the social sciences including criminology and psychology tend to be more subjective than for example mathematics, physics and chemistry.
        I believe that Robert Napper’s mother informed the police re her son’s criminally deviant behaviour, Hither Green ? Police contacted the Rachel Nickell inquiry re Napper, Dr Paul Britton assured the inquiry that Napper was not the killer, he also put the police up to the ‘Stagg honey trap’.
        The trial Judge in R v Stagg threw the prosecution case out, the Nickell family were devastated, the trial judge castigated, the police humiliated and Stagg was ‘guilty’ despite acquittal.
        Napper is now in Broadmoor, Rachel Nickell is but one of his victims.

      • Andy Barnett

        Hi Gojam (you voted yet?)

        I agree with the need for caution and to examine one’s assumptions. For example, you are assuming that your system is appropriate for categorising the type of offender, such that Janner or Cooke are of one type or the other. How do you know this is the case? It may be better to see your system as categorising behaviours, where an offender might exhibit two or more distinct behaviours.

        I can quite imagine a public school teacher having a ‘loving’ relationship with a 12 yr old from his school, while violently raping 15 year old kids from the care home down the road. Equally, offenders that find victims on the Internet may offend differently within the family. I therefore see no reason to assume that witness testimony is inaccurate just because it conflicts with the type of behaviour reported previously.

        As you say, you’d need the research to find out to what patterns of offending there are. But even then, everyone is different – there are no rules when it comes to perversions. Also, the research data will be limited to the offenders and behaviours we know about / look for. I would hazard a guess that 98% or more is unknown to the authorities, which makes any hypothesis impossible to test. Needless to say, amateurs like you or I are even less qualified to draw conclusions, based on what we read in the Press and the Internet.

      • Sabre

        That’s what I would have liked to have said.

  4. Andy Barnett

    I wonder if a more reliable approach is to separately profile paedophile behaviours (type & severity of abuse, age and gender of victim, grooming methods, etc.) and offenders (age, education, profession, ethnicity, religion, class,…) and then see if there are correlations between the two. The results might highlight certain types of people that have a tendency to offend in a certain ways (e.g. Pakistani taxi drivers grooming white 11-15 yr old care home girls, white privileged leaders of legal/political/military world exploiting 12-17 yr old boys, 35-45 yr old Dads grooming teenage girls over the internet). This analysis would never tell you whether a given allegation is true, and runs the risk of being used prejudicially (all black men are violent thugs, all football fans are drunken hooligans). However, such intelligence would be useful in a) alerting and protecting children from potential offenders, and b) targeting investigations at those communities most likely to be involved in crimes of a certain type.

    • Sabre

      Targeting and profiling eh?
      Liberty will have something to say about that, I wonder whether the irony would be lost on them given their role in supporting and promoting PIE in the first place.

  5. dpack

    re the nickell /stagg mess i knew folk who were close to her and folk who knew stagg.

    her justice came far too late and his cant be obtained .

    napper got identified ,eventually, but i recon the whole thing was vile and should be used as a example for investigators of how to get things wrong on almost every level.

    • Sabre

      The only people that came out of that with any credit were Napper’s mother and the old bill at Hither Green.

  6. brilliant…without trying to reducing the crimes of these monsters to mere numbers, you have still managed to tie all the important facts about the offenders into a one-look comparison; usable across multiple agencies..
    I absolutely agree with the applications suggest.

  7. Anon

    I see that shares in Child Brothels and Peer-To-Peer Network companies are expected to rise this morning.

  8. Sabre

    Will Theresa May bite the dust?

  9. Sabre

    She survived, our lovely new Government sincerely wants to get to the bottom of this scandal ?
    It wants to appear to anyway.

  10. Myers

    I found this interesting, and it is tenuously connected to the recent theme of security service meddling, (this time in GE15):
    View story at

    • Myers

      the link didn’t make it onto the previous for some reason:
      View story at

      • Sabre

        What is the link?

      • Myers

        It is to a Nafeez Ahmed article at I have tried to post it twice, but for some reason the needle won’t take it…?
        I’ve emailed Gojam, but no response, no amendment.
        The article is called ‘How Big Money and Big Brother Won the British Elections’.
        Arguably, it is not that relevant to the topics under discussion here, but I thought it was interesting enough to bring it up.

      • Sabre

        The link
        View story at

        It is interesting, it always amazes me that people appear to be shocked.
        Those that have interests to protect and the resources to protect them will do so. The democracy myth is in place to prevent change not to facilitate it. I’m not so sure about the ‘hard left rabble’ Labour with their PFI scams and non regulation of Banksters left any pretence of socialism behind in the 70s, UKIP with its pretence to oppose immigration in order to recruit an ignored white working class demographic to the cause of ultra Toryism had to have been the illegitimate offspring of a faction of the spooks and the globalist financiers that are too impatient to go through the transition from nation states to a global single market via a United States of Europe and prefer the direct route.

  11. robert hutchings

    Why does god allow little children to be used as sexual playthings ?
    We heard on dissident radio an interview by an anonymous John Prescott secretary, she said inside New labour they used to call the Lib/Dems “the faggots party” surely this is hypocritial bearing in mind that Tony Blair D noticed all his homosexual MPs who were using rent boys ?

  12. chrisb

    The police often use categorisation as short-hand. For example, IC1 means ‘White – North European’, IC2 ‘White – South European’, IC3 ‘Black’,
    IC4 ,Asian (in the UK Asian refers to people from the Indian subcontinent like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal)’, IC5 ‘Chinese, Japanese, or other South East Asian’, IC6 ‘Arabic or North African’, IC9 ‘Unknown’.

    I don’t question that CEOP attempt to understand paedophiles better. However, use of a coding system for paedophiles by other police officers does not indicate that they are using them intelligently. It probably just means that they prefer to use the codes rather than the long description sof every category.

  13. robert hutchings

    I like the idea of categorising sex offenders, but police do deals with offenders to get info on others, they promised the DJ Paul gambacini immunity if he spoke on the number of homosexual offenders working as DJs, Paul gave a lot of info on saviles crimes and that Allan Yentob and Esther rantzen knew what he did, but then the police knocked on paul gambacinis door and went back on their word and investigated him, so which is right and is it ever right to offer immunity to people like gambacini ?

    • Sabre

      I should really ponder before answering, I may regret a reflex answer, however, if immunity is granted it should be honoured for no other reason than retaining faith in the promise.
      Go back on immunity and you trick one bastard into hanging himself today at the price of having the next thousand bastards hidden for ever.
      It really isn’t in the Public Interest to renege on immunity offers.

  14. Yes. You are a very intelligent person, Gojam.
    What you want are forensic psychologists. We have many, working in our prison & justice systems here in North America. Yes, there are specific categories and actually a lot of serious research. One of the most interesting modern means of researching & profiling male sexual offenders has been the Plethesmograph. This is a ring that goes around the genitals and measures “response” to visual and auditory stimuli. It’s NOT a lie detector, but you could think of it in a similar way. Someone says: “I don’t get off on hurting kids”, well, the Plethesmograph will make a liar of him if he really does. Offenders can learn to control their responses, but when they first come into the system and get “tested” with this device, they won’t be able to.

    Years ago, I consulted with several forensic psychologists about how best to understand and confront the self-professed “boy-lovers” within the Gay community here. I learned…far more than I’d ever wished to.

    Andy Barnett said:
    “I can quite imagine a public school teacher having a ‘loving’ relationship with a 12 yr old from his school, while violently raping 15 year old kids from the care home down the road”.

    I can fantasize that there could be a rapist-murderer lurking deep in the soul of EVERY MALE ON THE PLANET, that might only be triggered under specific conditions with the correct victim profile, but the fact I can fantasize it doesn’t make it reality. The psychological forces driving a grooming offender and a sexual sadist are very different and rarely co-exist in gthe same individual. You might not be aware that there are stats on such things, which bear this out, but there are.

    • Sex has evolved to feel good and the endorphins (chemically close to morphine) released following orgasm supply a natural ‘hit’ as well as this high other hormones can be released from the pituitary gland including Growth hormones which can quell anxiety and gonadotropin hormones which can increase aggressive territorial behaviour. All of these responses, and more, have evolved to help perpetuate our species. There is no point in being coy about it, sex is good and it is good as a result of millions of years of mammal evolution.

      The problem, I guess, is that these responses which help reproduction and infant survival are natural variations on classic Pavlovian/respondent conditioning. Sex provides its own biochemical reward and stimuli/reward becomes cyclic and embedded in an individual. It is all ‘designed’ to help bond couples so that offspring have a better chance of survival but it is quite easy to see how with para-sexual stimuli that reward could be associated with illegal behaviour.

      There is a general move to push the theory that homosexuality is entirely genetic and I can understand why the homosexual community would want to adopt this and have the scientific community adopt it as orthodox and there may well be genetic differences which might pre-dispose an individual to homosexuality but it is pretty hard to ignore that human beings have evolved to be susceptible to respondent conditioning in life. Even by alluding to homosexuality in this context is controversial. For the record I’m not suggesting that homosexuality is ‘unnatural’ indeed I’m not sure that any human psychological behaviour is unnatural. There is just legal and illegal behaviour borne of rules that society finds acceptable as ‘society’ is another survival mechanism that benefits the majority on the bell curve.

      What is just as interesting as the psychology of sex offenders is the psychological and sociological reaction by members of the public too sex offenders. That is interesting to me as ideally I’d like the public to be aware of offenders in their community but that can only happen after education. Incidences of violence toward convicted offenders in the community are the biggest barrier to disclosure and the failure to disclose that a paedophile lives in a community potentially puts children at risk and so when a paedophile is identified there can be a violent reaction. This is another negative cycle that can only be broken through education.

      I understand that in some States in the USA the community are informed when a convicted paedophile moves into a community. Do you have any recent information on that JS ?

      • Sabre

        All behaviour is natural in the scientific if not legal sense.
        Why the scatter gun approach with apparently negative behaviours?
        Survival of the fittest is poorly understood, there isn’t a predefined fitness league with the fittest at the top and weakest at the bottom.
        Fitness is decided after the fact, those that survive a given environment at a given time are the fittest, a wide disparate variety of traits occur randomly, some of them are unlikely to prosper in even the most inconceivable circumstances, others are right for the time and place, some traits seem to be advantageous in any environment.
        You are unlikely to be at a disadvantage if you are intelligent, fertile, fast and strong ( not necessarily large).
        You are less likely to be at an advantage if you are unintelligent, infertile, slow and weak.
        There are traits that at first sight seem disadvantageous but when looked at in the context of given environment are actually advantageous, there are very few people that would elect to be afflicted with sickle cell anaemia, however, given that malaria is one of the globe’s greatest killers sickle cell anaemia is actually an advantageous trait.
        Wide variation and time and place are the final arbiters.

      • “All behaviour is natural in the scientific if not legal sense.”

        I agree. Scatter gun approach ?

        “For the record I’m not suggesting that homosexuality is ‘unnatural’ indeed I’m not sure that any human psychological behaviour is unnatural. There is just legal and illegal behaviour borne of rules that society finds acceptable as ‘society’ is another survival mechanism that benefits the majority on the bell curve.”

      • Sabre


        It could have been clearer, I wasn’t suggesting that you had taken a scatter gun approach.
        It was an allusion to the wide variation of genetic traits, many of them almost surreal or bizarre, that occur.

      • Sabre


        You shouldn’t have cited the bell curve lest you want puns about standard deviation :-)

      • @gojam – Sorry I missed answering your question about community notifications. In my own community, the police issue public notifications if a high-risk offender convicted of sex crimes or other violent crimes against persons is being released into our community. Generally, what makes them “high-risk” according to police, is that they refused to take treatment programs offered to them through the prison system. This type of notification happens through the media. There is no sex-offender registry here that might list a convicted persons actual address or anything.

        My community also happens to have one of the world-class community based treatment & monitoring programs for sex offenders, so a lot of pedophiles get released here in order to attend the program. There’s nothing airy-fairy about this program, it requires participants to disclose their criminal convictions to employers, family members, romantic partners, etc. There is also peer monitoring and support sort of akin to AA programs. The recidivism rate is very, very low, despite the fact that most of the participants have been “chronic” offenders in the past.

        In the US, each state has it’s own regulations about sex offender notifications and registries so there is great variance. It is true that in some areas the registries include such information as the offender’s current address. The intensive surveillance and risk of vigilantism has caused large numbers of offenders to “go underground” & “drop out of sight” in some areas, which no doubt makes them a greater risk to the community than those who are at least in the parole system and in contact with some form of policing agency on a regular basis.

  15. @sabre – you mentioned “amyl nitrate” overdoses in relation to certain monster’s sexual offenses. Can you point me to sources for more info?

    I’m thinking that maybe your sources meant “alkyl nitrites”, also known as “butyl nitrite” or “poppers”. I remember amyl nitrate ampules from the hippy drug scene of the mid-late 1970’s, but those are properly used to revive heart stoppage patients on the point of death. They are EXTREMELY powerful heart stimulants and I’d be very surprised if a child under the age of puberty could survive much more than a tiny whiff from one. – ?

    @gojam – SOME genetic pre-disposition for sexual orientation studies have been rather silly. Documenting that some females of an animal species attempt to mount other females as though they were male, or that some males of a species behave in characteristically female manner, only proves that the phenomenon of TRANSGENDER identity exists in animals as well as humans.

    The specifics of what will “turn you on” about other people, after puberty, cannot be coded in your genes – for heterosexuals, homosexuals or bisexuals. You genes cannot carry the info that you will get a big thrill from skinny blonds wearing high leather boots, for example. So, no person’s individual sexual arousal cues can be genetically determined – they come from your environment & experiences, (and not always consciously connected to anything you remember), and as you said they can be reinforced by fantasizing about them or acting on them. BUT, there are also underlying predispositions that are both sexual and “romantic” in nature. From the age of four, I always found male playmates bodies more interesting then female ones, and my first conscious “crushes” were on other males – although I’m capable of loving a woman also. The origin of these predispositions remains a mystery, but could very easily be genetic as they are so broad…simply MALE-YES, FEMALE-NO type of on-off like a genetic switch.

  16. Sabre

    My source was Andrew in a post just before mine, very lazy of me to echo someone else, however, my point was that Cooke et al appear to have had at least 3 lethal accidents regardless of the cause.
    It is my understanding that administration of a ‘noxious thing’ to facilitate a felony, should it lead to death, makes the administrators of the ‘noxious thing’ guilty of murder not manslaughter.
    Those participating in the felony, rape of a child, are also guilty by virtue of the ‘joint enterprise’.

  17. Becky

    Did anyone see the item in the news recently about police being trained to spot a paedophile by the way they look and dress?

    Although the police declined to reveal what they’ve decided a paedophile might look like. Ironically, if the photo of the guy who espouses this theory is anything to go by, I guess they’d never have caught Rolf Harris then!;)

    • There seem to be conflicting accounts about the origin of this “training programme” and its material. UK news attributes a Dr Johnson, while US sites attribute Yoder & Koka. There are claims that it has contributed to increased rate of at-risk child rescue & recovery, and if that’s true then HOORAY! The pedophile tattoo thing, however, seems likely to be based on urban myths – such as this crapola here:

  18. artmanjosephgrech

    another excellent piece which provoked thought as I travelled home from London on Thursday

    I suggest that there are three separate aspects which become conflated at times ie: giving the impression that profiling paedophiles and sex offending is the same activity given that the strict definition of paedophilia is a predisposition towards sex with pre puberty children; that someone who is caught after one or two offences is less dangerous that someone convicted after decades of criminal activity or that how an individual is treated by the judicial system and caught necessarily reflects the seriousness of their offending.

    I suggest that a sex offender has to be someone who has been charged by the police, prosecuted and convicted and these days placed on the register.

    Many children, young people, young adults engage in what society now regards as inappropriate sexual activity which is never the subject of police investigation and prosecution in a court of law.

    It is also merits saying that the policy in relation to sexual activity between children/young people in care has changed. Remember the law in relation to sexual activity leading to marriage has changed in the UK and varies widely between countries and between states for example in the USA.

    There also has been significant change in what is considered acceptable in terms of relationships between persons over 18 and those under and indeed in relation to male homosexuality from when it was illegal at any respect to illegal from 21, then 18 and then 16. There has always been a different approach by men, politicians, the police and prosecution to lesbianism.

    As I say paedophilia is only one aspect of what we now regard as inappropriate sexual behaviour on a scale with illegal activity at the most serious end.

    How parents approach the sexual awareness of their children also a factor from bringing children in their beds, also the bathing and dressing of themselves and their children with for example how common is it to put brothers and sisters in the same bath or for parents to have the kind of relationships where children will raise what happens when they go to play or to school.

    It is not that long ago that in the UK women were the property of men and were expected to do what ever their husbands required and this position persists in many countries and is also supported by many fundamental religions, including those practiced in the UK.

    It is also worthwhile to mention that in the Catholic church carnal relations before marriage was treated as a mortal sin and within marriage sex should be for procreation only. The whole notion that sex should be a pleasurable activity for participants is a recent invention.

    It is also only recently that UK parents were stopped from beating their children or giving them away to strangers. Many of those in authority, police, politicians magistrates lawyers educationalist social workers still regard some children in the UK as depraved, beyond help and redemption and therefore expendable In general as UK nation we accept that it is OK to bomb and use sophisticated killing weapons on men women children who are non combatants.

    Churchill ordered revenge killings on hundred of thousands in German cities out of revenge. Previously Britain was leader of the slave trade where slaves including children could be used and killed at will. Human trafficking into the UK, and children being sent out of the UK for child marriage, together with children being sexually mutilated in the UK may considered no longer acceptable but state intervention in terms of prosecuting offenders remains pathetic.

    There is need to understand that as with racism the overwhelming majority of men are closet reactionaries, indifferent, apathetic and hypocritical when it comes to the role of women in society and children. Some 36% of those voting in the general election in the UK voted to give up their human rights as determined within the EEC collectively.

    We remain particularly hypocritical in relation to our own armed forces where not just unmarried squaddies are issued with contraception for use in brothels at home as well as for rest and relaxation abroad especially when on active service. In fairness the former foreign secretary took a lead in promotion international action to stop the killing and rape of women and children but which remains common place in war torn countries.

    Sex offending behaviour profiling therefore covers a wide range of human activity at home and abroad and where paedophilia is one aspect.

    In terms of preventive action the kind of approach adopted by Northumbria police in relation to the exploitation of children( those under 18) and vulnerable adults is commendable and my understanding is that similar campaigns have been tailored to situations in other areas. The approach was first to target the night life world covering providers, staff, taxi drivers and public transport to be on the look out and report any situation where a child/vulnerable adult was seen in the company of a much older male who did not appear to be a relative. The general public was/is also encouraged to be on the look out for similar situations more generally.

    I also want to address the possible misconception that there is necessarily a significant difference because an offender/sex offender who has been convicted and imprisoned for one or several offences. There are several aspects of this. There is the strength of the evidence which can restrict the number of offences and victims, particularly in relation to offences committed over decades. There is also the understandable wish to prevent victims from having to go through the court process which can also restrict the number of victims which come to public attention. There is also aspects of timing. If someone is caught early on this can prevent the individual from having subsequent opportunity even if the inclination remains present.. There is therefore a potential disconnect how we regard someone as a future threat from someone who is not.

    The alarming aspect of revelations over the past two years is that the reason why some individuals appear to have been protected appears more related to who they are, what they have done in other respects, than the harm they have caused or the threat they continue to pose and nothing to do +ith their profile

    • Sabre

      I’ll find something to disagree with if it kills me !
      If definitely did provoke thought on your part.