Dangerousness Essay

2571 Words Aug 16th, 2013 11 Pages
Critically discuss the notion that dangerous offenders can never be managed effectively in the community

Cases such ‘The Soham Murders’ and Jamie Bulger, have given rise to concerns and debates as to whether the perpetrators of these offences are ever able to return to community without the risk that they may commit further horrific crimes. This rise in fear surrounding the release of ‘dangerous’ offenders into the community has resulted in a change in practice for many services within the Criminal Justice System. Probation in particular has seen a shift with a large emphasis now placed upon public protection. In order to effectively achieve the goal of Public Protection there has been a growth in Multi-Agency work, which has been
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Through a mixture of Clinical and Actuarial assessment it is argued that an effective Risk Management Plan can be put in place.

Criticism exists of both Actuarial and Clinical risk assessments. Nash argues that ‘there is widespread recognition that our ability to predict future risk, especially risk of serious harm, is extremely limited and at the top end of offending, homicide has been impossible to predict.’ (2012, pp268) Criticism levelled at Actuarial assessment are; statistical fallacy and low base rate. Statistical fallacy refers to the idea that results from sample population do not necessarily relate to a new group. Low base rate refers to the fact that offences where there is a low offender population such as child sex offences can lead to error because the statistic ‘are based upon data on infrequently occurring behaviours within small groups of the population’. (Kemshall 2001, pp16) As such it is difficult to make predictions based on small amounts of data. Clinical assessments have also faced criticism based on value judgements that professionals make which could result in discrimination or error. As a result of this any decision to release a prisoner from custody is fraught with risk and there is a possibility of error.

Risk Management Plans are based on the information provided by risk assessments. It is argued that through robust Risk Management the risk that Dangerous Offenders pose can be managed. It encompasses
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