Risk Assessment

Jessica Gormley*, Wayne Petherick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingOther chapter contributionResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In forensic psychology, risk assessment refers to the practice of evaluating the chance that an individual will re-offend. Historically, professionals would utilize their own clinical judgment in an effort to predict risk; however, because of the inaccuracy of prediction outcomes, a more statistical approach was developed, known as actuarial risk assessment. Although these more structured assessments improved the prediction of risk, research has largely been inconsistent regarding their accuracy. As a result, new procedures were developed, and best practice now involves structured professional judgment, a combination of the actuarial and clinical judgment approaches. Risk assessment is not yet an exact science; although there are advantages to each of the approaches, there are also disadvantages; and, finally, discussions of risk need to be undertaken from a responsible perspective, particularly when communicating risk. Risk assessment is common practice in high-stakes cases, such as those involving civil commitment. Therefore, and particularly given the lack of guidelines, when communicating risk, it is important to be cautious and transparent about the issues of the tools used. The chapter outlines examples of good practice, as well as examples of unprofessional practice, concluding with suggestions on what to do when harm is likely or imminent.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationApplied Crime Analysis: A Social Science Approach to Understanding Crime, Criminals, and Victims
EditorsW Petherick
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780323296410
ISBN (Print)9780323294607
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2014


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