A forensic criminologist has a particular examination to perform or set of questions to answer. He is interested in theory and research only in as much as it can be applied to an analysis or interpretation of a case. As a forensic expert, he conducts a rigorous, skeptical analysis of the entire body of evidence that objectivity demands, comprehensively comparing case facts and circumstances to each piece of evidence. A rigorous analysis of evidence, by itself and in context to other evidence, can reinforce or refute its relationship to a case, reveal inaccuracies or inconsistencies, or be inconclusive. Forensic criminologists study the criminal in all of his facets including causal factors such as predisposition, precipitating factors, triggering factors, interaction between victim and offender, the role of the victim in the criminal justice system, et cetera.
A practicing forensic criminologist employs advanced meta-cognitive critical thinking skills directed at a certain set of facts and circumstances. Critical thinking, as defined by Paul and Scriven2, is “the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” The forensic criminologist is an expert by virtue of his relevant training, knowledge, experience, and education.
Criminology is the construction of theories or models that allows for a better understanding of criminal behaviour and that permit the development of strategies intended to address the problem of crime. Theories3, (interrelated propositions that attempt to describe, explain, predict and ultimately control some class of events) gain explanatory power from inherent logical consistency and are “tested” by how well they describe and predict reality. Criminology in the forensic context may be confused with theoretical criminology, which is typically reserved for academic settings. Forensic criminology makes use of theory in an applied manner, focusing on the practical, as opposed to theoretical.