It is very important that we are using accredited risk assessment tools to assess the risk and need for young people involved in offending. YLS/CMI and Asset are actuarial risk assessment tools and as such have fundamental limitations. One particular limitation is that these tools are derived from statistics about group characteristics, which are then applied at an individual level. However, due to the margins of error being so large when applied at the individual level, it is not possible to estimate an individual’s risk for future violence with any reasonable degree of certainty (Cooke & Michie, 2007). Therefore, whilst the tools can predict the general reoffending rate of the group, they cannot predict which individuals within that group will, or will not, reoffend. The FRAME guidance states that ‘Assessments in relation to the risk of further offending behaviour are best undertaken within the context of structured professional judgement. This should be underpinned by holistic formulation of the relevant developmental, dispositional and environmental factors’ (Risk Management Authority, 2011; Scottish Government, 2014). The use of scores and converting these to risk bands in the Asset assessment, and perhaps to a lesser extent YLS/CMI, does not encourage the practice of developing a comprehensive formulation so that the relevant underlying drivers to the behaviour of concern can be understood and risk reduction measures linked directly to these.
From this summer, ASSET will no longer be included in the RMA’s RATED document. To support practitioners we have been researching alternative tools. One that has received positive feedback and that will be included in RATED is START:AV. The START:AV is a tool that could assist us in moving to improved risk practice in Scotland. It has a focus on formulation, intervention planning and measuring change and found to detect item-level changes in strength and vulnerability factors, as well as the total scores, over a short-term follow up period (Sellers et al., 2017). This finding also highlights the contribution that measuring strengths can add to risk assessment.
The Scottish Government is committed to supporting training in appropriate risk assessment tools. With that in mind, we would like to gauge how many practitioners would require training in START:AV.
Please fill in the form below to let us know how many staff in your team would require Start-AV Training.