Lina Al Amiri
Emirati Lina Al Amiri who works for Dubai Police, is the Middle East’s first female criminal profiler.

Dubai: Lina Al Amiri, who works for Dubai Police, is the Middle East’s first female criminal profiler and child forensic interviewer.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Lina, who works at the General Department of Forensic Science and Criminology at Dubai Police, recalled how a teacher sparked her love of biology – which set her on the path to where she is today.

“In Grade 11, I was introduced to genetics. Believe it or not, I wasn’t at first interested in biology or science - I wouldn’t say I liked it,” she said. However, the biology teacher ignited her interest in the subject.

She joined Dubai Police since 2013 and worked in the Biology and DNA Section, moving in 2015 to work in the Criminology Department.

Expert opinion

As part of her job, she has to study the case file, conduct interviews with children and adults, apply relevant tests, and finally write reports that explain her expert opinion, which is submitted in court cases.

When she submits a criminal profile, it includes a victim’s profile, the analysis includes the impact of the crime on the life of the person. It also includes the suspects’ profiles; she studies their risk levels as it helps in evaluating the verdict. A judge sees the profiles and accordingly hands out the most appropriate sentence.

Lina completed her studies from Griffith University in Australia to specialise in two fields – through a Bachelor of Forensic Biology and Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice – graduating in 2013.

She obtained a third specialisation in Criminal Profiling in 2020, remotely with an institute of forensic criminology.

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Lina always dreamed of making a difference in the community

Childhood trait

Lina has loved analysis since her childhood. “If there is any puzzle in front of me, I will spend hours on it until I solve it, as I enjoy the process. I feel like I have a huge energy that helps me in this field. I like to put the pieces together; my brain switches to problem-solving mode.”

Lina always dreamed of making a difference in the community.

“I love helping people. If you ask me what are your hobbies, the answer is I love serving people. And criminal profiling helps me to help others,” she said.

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Lina says she has to separate her criminal profiling work from her personal life

Work-life balance

Work-life balance

Lina’s uncle works in the investigations department of Dubai Police, but the first person to introduce her to police work was her aunt. “She loved to read detective stories - they were small books with illustrations in them. As a child, I used to enjoy looking at the drawings a lot.”

Lina said that she has to separate her criminal profiling work from her personal life. She has trained herself not to bring home the cases, which can be unsettling, as she handles cases such as murderers.

“Because of a lot of deep analysis that goes in, it’s almost as if I begin to see the [Victim] of a murder case in front of me everywhere – this is a challenge. But it also gives me motivation to complete my work, as there is still justice to be done,” she explained.

Another challenge she faced were comments on why she was working in a field that is “not for a woman”. However, Lina always focused on the bigger picture – to serve people.

“My parents are my biggest supporters. I have achieved my mother’s dream.”

Leveraging technology

The department is currently in the process of testing a technique that analyses emotions from the voice of people. The technology is like an assistant or aide that gives Lina an indication to pay special attention to specific parts during her interviews with people in the case where evidence could be found.

Lina has handled at least 858 cases since she joined the General Department of Forensic Science and Criminology, carried out 3,028 forensic examinations and conducted 340 forensic interviews at least.

Many of the cases she analyses are family disputes cases. “I wish that even if parents –separated or not - have problems, they would still work together in the interest of the children,” Lina said.

She explained that she meets all parties, but children in specific are met at a “neutral place” such as a school or in one of the community centres that the police cooperate with, to minimise the exposure of the child to the criminal justice system process. “This process is not easy for a child.”

Lina also applies tests to determine if a child psychologically and emotionally stable or not.

There are other cases too – sexual harassment, rape, murder, bullying, vandalism, among other crimes.

174-hour murder case

One of the cases she worked on – a murder case – took her 174 hours. She went through more than 300 records and photographs, besides going to the crime scene.

“It’s very important as a criminal profiler to go to the crime scene and understand the environment and its surroundings.”

She eventually came up with around 38 recommendations for different departments involved in the case. “They helped us progress in the investigation significantly. It was a breakthrough.”