Violent risk assessment: Research and practice

Corine de Ruiter, Martin Hildebrand

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

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This chapter provides a historical overview of research and practice in violence risk assessment. Unstructured clinical risk judgment was largely abandoned in the early 1990s and replaced by actuarial approaches, followed by structured professional judgment approaches. We discuss strengths and weaknesses of these approaches and illustrate how they operate in practice, using a case example. It should be noted that focusing too much on risk factors can lead to offender stigmatization and pessimism. In the past decade, assessment of protective factors has been added to risk-only evaluations, resulting in more balance in risk assessment practice and research. Recidivism base rates need to be taken into account when conducting risk assessments and research has revealed that assessors often fail to do this. Risk assessment research could be improved by a focus on other predictive validity indicators, besides the area under the curve of the receiver operating characteristics analysis. In addition, validity research in a larger variety of populations will produce more accurate predictions in actual cases, which resemble these populations. Structured risk assessment approaches have improved inter-evaluator agreement, predictive accuracy, and transparency, compared to unstructured approaches.keywordsrisk assessmentrisk factorsprotective factorsbase rate neglectpredictive accuracyvalidityroc analysiscognitive biasrisk managementrisk formulation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationClinical forensic psychology
Subtitle of host publicationIntroductory perspectives on offending
EditorsCarlo Garofalo, Jelle J. Sijtsema
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer Nature
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-80881-5
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Violence
  • risk assessment

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