Imagine asking a member of the public the following question:

What is a criminological psychologist?

What does a criminological psychologist do?

What types of people do criminological psychologists work with?

The answers to these questions are likely to be informed by TV programmes, films and, possibly, high-profile media cases. In the public imagination, the criminological psychologist is a Sherlock Holmes-like figure, solving crimes and mysteries with a combination of arcane scientific knowledge and penetrating insight into the workings of the criminal mind. This makes good television but it does not represent the reality of criminological psychology. Criminological psychologists do sometimes contribute directly to police investigations but this is a relatively minor aspect of a very diverse field. Psychologists are involved in researching the causes of crime, rehabilitating offenders, preventing crime, providing expert advice to law enforcement and the courts and a great deal more. Criminological psychology is just one of a number of academic disciplines that contribute to policing and criminal justice. Others include criminology, sociology, psychiatry and law. Each has its own purpose, assumptions and methods and, consequently, each has something different to contribute to understanding and tackling crime.