An Examination of Violence Risk Communication in Practice Using a Structured Professional Judgment Framework

Jennifer Storey, Kelly Watt, Stephen Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


The increased use of violence risk assessment tools in professional practice has sparked the development of best-practice guidelines for communicating about violence risk. The present study examined 166 pre-sentence reports, authored by clinicians and probation officers, to determine the extent to which they are consistent with those guidelines. We examined the frequency with which reports contained information about five topics: the presence of risk factors; the relevance of risk factors; scenarios of future violence; recommended management strategies; and summary risk judgments. Analyses revealed that the topics addressed most frequently in reports were the presence of risk factors and recommended management strategies, but none of the five topics was addressed consistently, completely, or clearly in reports. This was especially the case for probation reports. The findings highlight the need to improve practice through better implementation of guidelines for risk communication. Also needed is research on the extent to which information in risk communications is comprehended, accepted, and used by various stakeholder groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-55
Number of pages17
JournalBehavioral Sciences and the Law
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2015

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