The Nuts and Bolts of Risk Assessment: When the Clinical and Actuarial Conflict

Article English OPEN
Ansbro, Maria (2010)

The aim of this research was to examine the thought processes that practitioners follow when they are conducting risk assessments. Weighing up the probability that an individual will inflict harm requires the practitioner to apply clinical and actuarial approaches, and integrate static and dynamic information. This is a complex and inexact task, and one that has been found lacking in reviews of serious further offences. This research focused on a small, atypical subgroup of risk assessments; those where the actuarial information is at odds with the clinical judgment. The results indicated that practitioners are more likely to override actuarial information that indicates a low risk of harm rather than a high one, confirming the existence of the ‘precautionary principle’. The research also produced some important messages for practice, particularly a reluctance to reduce sexual offenders’ risk of harm even when evidence of all types was compelling, and conversely, a willingness to reduce non-sexual offenders’ risk on the basis of only flimsy dynamic evidence, and counter to actuarial pointers. The research concludes that a more sophisticated understanding of the evidence around dynamic factors would enhance assessments.
  • References (24)
    24 references, page 1 of 3

    Ansbro, M. (2006) 'What can we learn from serious incident reports?', Probation Journal, 53(1), 57-70.

    Beech, A., Friendship, C., Erikson, M. and Hanson, R.K. (2002) 'The relationship between static and dynamic risk factors and reconviction in a sample of UK child abusers', Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 14(2), 155-7.

    Craissati, J. and Beech, A. (2003) 'A review of dynamic variables and their relationship to reconviction', Journal of Sexual Aggression, 9(1), 41-55.

    Craissati, J. and Sindall, O. (2009) 'Serious further offences: an exploration of risk and typologies', Probation Journal, 56(1), 9-27.

    Crawford, A. (2007) 'What impacts on quality assessment using OASys?', Probation Journal, 54(2), 157-70.

    Grove, W.M., Zald, D.H., Hallberg, A.M., Lebow, B., Snitz, E. and Nelson, C. (2000) 'Clinical versus mechanical prediction: a meta-analysis', Psychological Assessment, 12(1), 19-30.

    Hanson, R.K. and Harris, A.J.R. (2001) 'A structured approach to evaluating change among sexual offenders', Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 13(2), 105-22.

    HM Inspectorate of Probation (2005) Realising the Potential: A Short Focused Inspection on the Offender Assessment System (OASys), London: HM Inspectorate of Probation.

    HM Inspectorate of Probation (2006a) An Independent Review of a Serious Further Offence Case: Damien Hanson and Elliot White, London: HM Inspectorate of Probation.

    HM Inspectorate of Probation (2006b) An Independent Review of a Serious Further Offence Case: Anthony Rice, London: HM Inspectorate of Probation.

  • Metrics
    No metrics available
Share - Bookmark