Challenges in determining how dynamic risk factors manifest in incarcerated sexual offenders

Tamara Sweller, Michael Daffern, Narelle Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


To determine imprisoned sexual offenders’ post-release risk for reoffending and to monitor change during imprisonment, risk-relevant behaviours must be identified and monitored. The aim of this study is to elucidate the behavioural manifestations of empirically-derived dynamic risk factors in incarcerated sexual offenders. A total of 34 psychologists with experience working with sexual offenders in secure settings completed an online survey. They were presented with items drawn from structured risk-assessment instruments – the Risk of Sexual Violence Protocol (RSVP) and the Violence Risk Scale: Sexual Offender version (VRS:SO) – and asked to generate specific behaviours they might observe in custody that are indicative of each of the dynamic risk factors included in the RSVP and the VRS:SO. They were also asked to identify positive variants of each of the dynamic risk factors – pro-social behaviours which may indicate improvement in the offender's behaviour. The participants generated more examples of dynamic risk factors compared with pro-social behaviours. The findings were reflective of the challenges which clinicians and researchers face in the assessment of dynamic risk factors in incarcerated sexual offenders. Practical and theoretical implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-781
Number of pages17
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology & Law
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2016


  • behavioural observation
  • change assessment
  • dynamic risk factors
  • offence paralleling behaviour
  • prison
  • risk assessment
  • sexual offender

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