Risk assessment in parole decisions: a study of life sentence prisoners in England and Wales

Forde, Robert Anthony (2014). Risk assessment in parole decisions: a study of life sentence prisoners in England and Wales. University of Birmingham. Foren.Psy.D.

PDF - Accepted Version

Download (1MB)


This thesis examines the relationships between risk assessment and parole decisions. Chapter 1 introduces the problem. Chapter 2 systematically reviews 29 papers involving 20,568 participants, concluding that practices vary widely, but subjective rather than evidence-based risk assessment predominates. Chapter 3 reports a study of how parole decisions related to three widely-used risk assessment instruments (the PCL-R, the HCR-20, and the SVR-20), and recommendations of professionals (psychologists and probation officers) on 100 life sentence prisoners in England and Wales, 84 of whom were eligible for parole. The study found that parole decisions were related to the recommendations of professionals, especially that of the offender manager (external probation officer). Professional recommendations themselves were related to the more subjective subscales of the risk assessment instruments. Chapter 4 considers an instrument used in the research, the PCL-R psychopathy assessment, concluding that the PCL-R, although it may have been successful in academic research, lacks reliability when used as a risk assessment instrument “in the field”. Chapter 5 discusses the findings, concluding that the present system of risk assessment for parole in England and Wales is not evidence-based and that as a result many low-risk prisoners are likely to undergo prolonged detention unnecessarily.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Foren.Psy.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Foren.Psy.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/5476


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year