INTELLIGENCE Volume 2, Issue 5, Spring 2014: Improving Youths’ Outcomes with Routine Use of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY)

Welcome to the fifth issue of the second volume of Intelligence.

Intelligence will keep you up to date with the recent advances in threat assessment from around the globe.

World-leading threat assessment figures have agreed to share their knowledge and experiences and serve on the Intelligence editorial board.

We also encourage you to contribute and provide feedback.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to Dr. Laura Guy who has recently joined the ProActive ReSolutions team as a threat assessment specialist and will be joining us as a member of the editorial board. Laura received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Simon Fraser University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in forensic psychology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). She has been a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at UMMS since 2009. Dr. Guy has extensive experience conducting violence risk assessments in various settings, including forensic psychiatric hospitals, prisons, and workplaces, and has delivered expert witness testimony in court regarding violence risk assessment. Dr. Guy is very active in research related to violence risk assessment and has expertise in training professionals on assessing and managing risk for general violence using tools such as the HCR-20 for adults and SAVRY for adolescents. Dr. Guy has contributed our latest research update, Improving Youths’ Outcomes with Routine Use of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY).

We hope Intelligence will continue to provide a forum for you to share and develop your expertise in threat assessment.

Sincerely,

Kelly A. Watt, PhD 

Threat Assessment
ProActive ReSolutions Inc.

 

Latest Research

Improving Youths’ Outcomes with Routine Use of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY)

Update by Dr. Laura Guy

Literally hundreds of studies exist to support the reliable and valid use of numerous risk assessment instruments among adults. Significantly less research has been conducted on assessing risk for violence with adolescents. Of particular interest to professionals who work directly with youth at risk for engaging in violence or to individuals responsible for managing agencies that oversee such youth is the impact of implementing protocols for assessing risk of violence as part of routine, day-to-day practice. A primary goal of assessing risk is to identify the main factors that are driving the youth’s risk for violence, and then to develop an individually tailored risk management plan. Research supports the use of intervention strategies that adhere to the Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) principles for reducing or managing risk for adult and youth offending (see Andrews & Bonta, 2006). In brief, the RNR model posits that more intensive intervention (e.g., treatment, supervision) should be delivered to individuals at higher risk, treatment should target the specific risk domains of relevance for the individual, and factors that may affect the person’s response to intervention (e.g., cognitive ability, access to transportation) should be considered when developing the risk management plan. Traditionally, across most professional groups (e.g., probation officers, mental health professionals, etc.), risk assessment and case management practices for youth have been completed in an unstructured manner. Consequently, little or even negative impact on reoffending may result, especially if youth are given quantities or types of services they do not need. For instance, if too many or the wrong types of management strategies are delivered to youth at low risk of violence, risk could increase. Alternatively, delivering too few or the wrong types of management strategies to youth at high risk of violence also could increase risk.

Dr. Gina Vincent and her colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School recently studied the impact of implementing a well-validated structured professional judgment risk assessment instrument, the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY; Borum, Bartel, & Forth, 2006), among juvenile probation offices in Louisiana. Probation officers were taught how to complete the SAVRY and use it for effective case management in line with RNR principles and agency policy. Compared to before the SAVRY was used routinely, rates of youth being placed outside the home were halved and maximum levels of supervision dropped by almost 30%. Use of community services decreased except among the high-risk youth, in line with research-based principles of best practice. The shift towards more appropriate allocation of resources that were matched to risk level occurred without increased reoffending.

This study adds to the growing research base demonstrating that risk assessment instruments, when implemented properly into routine practice, can exert a positive difference for youths’ outcomes. The findings reinforce that not only do we need to consider which risk assessment tool to implement for assessing and managing youth’s risk for violence, but also to monitor exactly how it is being implemented to ensure the best possible outcome related to decreasing risk and increasing safety.

Andrews, D. A., & Bonta, J. (2006). The psychology of criminal conduct, 4th ed. Newark, NJ: LexisNexis/Matthew Bender.

Borum, R., Bartel, P., & Forth, A. (2006). Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY). Florida: Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.

Vincent, G. M., Guy, L. S., & Gershenson, B. G., & McCabe, P. (2012). Does risk assessment make a difference? Results of implementing the SAVRY in juvenile probation. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 30, 384-405.

 

Practice Update

Am I Qualified to Train? Some Suggestions for Those Who Want to Teach Others to Use Threat Assessment Tools

Update by Dr. Kelly Watt and Dr. Stephen Hart

We have seen tremendous growth in the field of threat assessment in recent years. One area of growth is the development of threat assessment tools and their implementation into diverse settings. Increasingly, questions arise concerning the qualifications required to train others to use threat assessment tools.

The question is not a simple one to answer. On one hand, from a practical perspective, there is little or nothing to stop anyone who wants to train others from doing so— at least, assuming trainers comply with copyright law as it pertains to tools and training materials. Perhaps the only basic qualification is that trainers should know more about the tool than do the people they train! But on the other hand, there are good professional and legal reasons to spend a little more time and effort to think about whether a trainer has suitable qualifications. Trainers may be responsible under ethics codes, standards of practice, and common law to take reasonable steps to ensure the training includes factually correct information and promotes sound practice. Those who attend training may have a similar responsibility.

There is, unfortunately, a lack of explicit criteria by which to judge the qualifications of trainers. Below, we outline some things that may be helpful to consider related to whether a person is qualified to train others in the use of a specific threat assessment tool.

1. Has the (potential) trainer demonstrated general expertise in the field of threat assessment and management? Specifically, trainers should posses a high level of knowledge, skills, and experience with respect to:
(a) violence, including its nature, epidemiology, and etiology;
(b) threat assessment, including gathering, synthesizing, and documenting information; and,
(c) threat management, including liaison with relevant criminal justice, health care, human resources, and legal professionals.
This may be demonstrated by such things as completion of professional education or training programs; a high level of supervised practice; work experience; and membership in relevant professional organizations.

2. Has the (potential) trainer demonstrated specific expertise in the use of the threat assessment tool that is the focus of the training? Specifically, trainers should posses a high level of knowledge, skills, and experience with respect to:
(a) the scientific and professional literature underlying the development and supporting the reliability and validity of the tool;
(b) the correct application and administration of the tool, including the interpretation of findings obtained using the tool;
(c) special risk factors that may be related to the type of violence that is the focus of the training (e.g., mental disorder, group dynamics, cultural norms, victim vulnerabilities); and
(d) the strengths and limitations of the tool in comparison with other tools.
This may be demonstrated by such things as formal endorsement or certification of the trainer by the tool’s developers or publishers; a high level of experience in the use of the tool; and experience conducting research on the tool.

3. Has the (potential) trainer demonstrated the ability to deliver a sound training program? Specifically, trainers should deliver a training program that:
(a) is based on a formal curriculum;
(b) has explicit learning objectives;
(c) relies on methods of instruction that are appropriate in light of the learning objectives;
(d) incorporates methods of evaluation that are appropriate in light of the learning objectives; and,
(e) has been or will be evaluated.
These may be demonstrated by such things as a high level of experience training others generally (i.e., not just in the use of the tool); ability to provide samples of the curriculum and training materials; formal endorsement or certification of the trainer or training program by the tool’s developers or publishers; approval of the curriculum by relevant professional bodies; a high level of experience conducting research on the tool; and experience conducting formal evaluations of the training program.

When the answer to all three of these questions is an unreserved yes, you should feel confident training others or attending training. If you have reservations answering any of the questions, seek out the information or opinions that would help you to achieve clarity or certainty—ask the (potential) trainer or ask others you trust.

Here at ProActive, we are sometimes asked why we don’t offer “train the trainer” programs, or “permit” or “certify” people to train others. We take training seriously, and we won’t say someone is qualified to train others until we have directly evaluated them and have judged they meet criteria such as those outlined above. We don’t believe that anyone who successfully completes a basic training program in the use of a tool is automatically qualified to train others.

We would love to hear your thoughts about the qualifications of trainers. What criteria do you think should be considered? Do you agree with our general criteria, or would you drop some or add others? Have you had any bad experiences with unqualified trainers? Feel free to send us your comments by email kwatt@proactive-resolutions.com —we may summarize them or ask to publish them in a future issue.

 

Book Review

The Better Angels of our Nature – A History of Violence and Humanity

Review by Marc Kozlowski, Head of Psychology, HMP Edinburgh, Scottish Prison Service

Steven Pinker is one of our generation’s giants of psychology on whose shoulders the rest of us are, thankfully, able to stand. In his previous work he has revealed and mapped patterns of data whose sources straddle neuropsychology, social psychology, linguistics, history, ethics, anthropology and philosophy. He highlights the meta-themes that emerge when all of these data are viewed together and is able to present his observations in a writing style that is both objective and refreshingly accessible. As a result, when you read a Steven Pinker book you are left thinking ‘This is so important and so obvious – why did nobody spot this before?’

‘The Better Angels of Our Nature – A History of Violence and Humanity’ does not disappoint. As threat assessment professionals our training and experience have led us to look at violence from all conceivable angles, right? Not necessarily so, as it turns out. From the earliest chapters of this book some of our collective professional assumptions about violence and about people who use violence are challenged in what turns out to be 841 pages of compelling narrative including historical data, amusing and unsettling anecdotes, statistical trend-spotting, wry asides, and breath-taking game-changers.

The Better Angels of our Nature narrates the story of human violence from pre-history to today. Many forms of violence are explored: homicide, war, domestic violence, torture, capital punishment, deadly quarrels, militarized disputes, terrorism, lynchings, genocide, hate-crime murders, rape, corporal punishment, child abuse, and violence to animals. And here is the cool bit: all of these forms of violence have been decreasing in frequency for decades and/or centuries, and all are continuing to decrease. Yes, really. From about a third of the way into this book I stopped looking at the perpetrators of violence with whom I work and asking myself ‘why are you violent?’, and I started looking at everybody else and asking myself ‘why are you not violent?’

We stopped being habitually violent to one another very recently and relatively suddenly, this book reveals. Which begs the question ‘why?’ You will be pleased to hear that Steven Pinker walks us through five historical developments which have brought about this downward trend across the violence data sets. But if I were to tell you what those five changes are then that would be a spoiler, and you would be unlikely to read the book. And that would be to miss out on a real treat.

If you work with individuals who pose a risk of violence then you need to read this book. It will change how you think about violence and ultimately how you assess and manage future risk.

 

Industry Association News

Association of European Threat Assessment Professionals

Message from President Bram B. van der Meer

Proudly we are looking forward to our association’s annual conference, which lies just around the corner. Threat assessment professionals can expect contributions from respected experts, in impressive Stockholm – founded in 1250, and known for its beauty, its buildings and architecture, its abundant clean and open water, and its many parks. Professional speakers will present new scientific findings as well as practical casework. This combination of research and practice has always been, and will again this year be an important aim for our conference. Members and participants have noticed an increasing need for a stronger focus on threat management strategies and programs. Therefore, 90 minutes of every conference day will be dedicated to a ‘Case Discussion’, including a panel of experts giving their professional ideas and suggestions for case management.

AETAP has always been proud of the wide range of countries represented at our conference. Every year we are fortunate to count more flags, and now again we are delighted to see speakers and participants from many different parts of the world. This year we are excited to be welcoming participants from South Africa broadening our interest to the African continent. The conference will officially be opened on the evening of Monday April 7. The program includes visits to the Swedish Parliament as well as the Royal castle, where the offices of the King, the other members of the Swedish Royal Family and the offices of the Royal Court of Sweden are located.

2014 will be our 7th annual conference of our association. During the last 7 years AETAP has developed from a small group of European experts who recognized a need to address issues related to stalking, domestic violence and threats, to a large and growing group of diverse professionals, interested in the broad field of threat assessment. From the beginning, our work has attracted representatives from academia, but over the years we have also seen increased interest from the corporate world and law enforcement. I now see AETAP developing and moving to a new level of professionalism, ready to grow rapidly. From this perspective I am delighted to see that the European association is playing a significant role in the international accreditation and certification of threat assessment professionals. The International Handbook of Threat Assessment that was published recently, and the first issue of the Journal of Threat Assessment and Management that will be released during spring this year, reflect that the field of threat assessment is expanding and further professionalizing internationally.

I am impressed and delighted to see how productively, efficiently and certainly also pleasantly all the associations are working together. The objective of developing strong international relationships, and finding new ways of connecting professionally will remain to be one of our primary objectives.

 

Asia Pacific Association of Threat Assessment Professionals

Conference recap from Committee Member Totti Karpela

Asia Pacific Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (APATAP) had its third annual conference in Melbourne mid-November. The young and enthusiastic association had managed to gather 60+ participants from the region and a few long distance travelers to join the event. Participants varied from mental health professionals, law enforcement, private security and a few representatives from the corporate world. The main sponsor for the conference was Microsoft, which also generously gave the association access to their conference facility. Like the Canadian and European associations, APATAP also has a separate expert seminar attached to the conference program. The speaker on the expert day was detective inspector Jonathan Rouse and the topic was Cybercrime and Internet Sex Offenders.

The main seminar had presentations from a broad field of topics, yet the most common background of speakers was from psychology or psychiatry. APATAP conference had law enforcement related topics such as “The benefits and pitfalls of working with the Police” and an interesting presentation of Sovereign citizens by a principal intelligence analyst of WA police. The conference also covered topics such as assessing risk in overly persistent and querulant complainants, assessment of problem behaviours in New South Wales. University settings were also briefly covers in presentations regarding staff training for early identification and management of student problem behaviors but also a presentation about a tertiary security team in a university environment. The conference audience also learned from presentations about improving outcomes for mentally ill fixated persons; understanding fire setting; assessing and managing risk in threateners with mental illness; as well as of a conceptual model for differentiating rapists and their offences. One very fresh and interesting presentation was given on a motivational typology of threateners and also a presentation from the corporate world regarding a practical assessment of intrusive, inappropriate or threatening letters.

Evening programs were relatively close to the main venue, within an easy walking distance. Both evenings had lively discussions and networking with the out-of-the-city visitors. The volunteers of APATAP had clearly put a lot of energy and effort to provide a top-class conference.

Next year the conference will take place in Brisbane on 26th-­28th; be sure to mark the date into your calendar. Brisbane is also a great place to take your family to enjoy of beach life. Perhaps you could bring your whole family along?

 

Special Announcements

Online Professional Training Now Available for the HCR-V3 and RSVP

Online professional training programs for two important risk assessment tools—the HCR-20 Version 3 (HCR-V3) and the Risk for Sexual Violence Protocol (RSVP)—are now available. Each training program describes the foundation for structured professional judgment, and explains how to rate the presence and relevance of risk factors, formulate risk scenarios, consider case management issues, and conceptualize and provide summary judgments regarding overall risk. Each program includes both didactic and interactive materials and allows the opportunity to apply the assessment instrument to a sample case.

The HCR-20 assists professionals in institutional and community settings to assess and manage risk for general violence. Version 3 of the HCR-20 (HCR-V3), released in June 2013, maintains the basic features of Version 2, but has additional features that will help decision makers to determine which risk factors are most relevant at the individual level, how to produce a meaningful case formulation, how to develop helpful risk management plans, and how to make summary judgments. Drs. Kevin Douglas and Stephen Hart, international experts in threat assessment and risk management, present this training program. More information about the Assessing Risk for Violence using the HCR-20 Version 3 online professional training program is available at: http://www.concept-ce.com/evaluation-of-risk-for-violence-using-the-hcr-20-version-3/.

The RSVP (The Risk for Sexual Violence Protocol) is a structured professional judgment (SPJ) guideline for assessing and managing risk for sexual violence. The RSVP incorporates the latest advances in the SPJ approach to violence risk assessment and management, including methods for risk formulation and scenario planning. International expert in threat assessment and risk management Dr. Stephen Hart presents this training program. More information about the Assessing Risk for Sexual Violence using the RSVP online professional training program is available at: http://www.concept-ce.com/evaluation-of-risk-for-sexual-violence-using-the-rsvp/.

 

First Issue of the Journal of Threat Assessment and Management

Update by Dr. Stephen Hart

On behalf of the Senior Editors — Stephen D. Hart, Jens Hoffmann, J. Reid Meloy, and Lisa Warren — I am very pleased to announce that the first issue of the Journal of Threat Assessment and Management (JTAM) is at the printer and will soon arrive at your door!

JTAM has been a long time coming. The need for a new journal was apparent following the lapse of Haworth’s Journal of Threat Assessment, which published only two volumes and folded in 2003. The idea for JTAM was supported by many people working in the field, then developed into a proposal, and finally given official endorsement by the Big Four—the American, Asia Pacific, Canadian, and European threat assessment professional associations. The idea became a reality when the proposal was accepted by the American Psychological Association’s Office of Publications and Databases, under the direction of Gary Vandenbos.

JTAM will focus on operational aspects of the assessment and management of risk for interpersonal violence. It is unique in three ways. First, it is devoted exclusively to the subject of violence risk. Second, it is applied in nature, dealing with the development, implementation, and evaluation of procedures for assessing and managing violence risk. Third, it both reflects and promotes the values of interdisciplinarity and internationalism, based on the view that preventing violence requires collaborations that cross professional and, in many cases, geopolitical boundaries. Please visit the official JTAM website www.apa.org/pubs/journals/tam for more information about the journal’s aim and scope, as well as to see the professionals from diverse backgrounds who have agreed to serve on the Editorial Board.

The content of the inaugural issue of JTAM is summarized below. It includes articles that deal with topics ranging from mental illness and violence to sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and stalking. Coming issues will include articles dealing with topics such as terrorism and workplace violence, case studies illustrating approaches to threat assessment and management, descriptions of threat assessment units in law enforcement and national security organizations, and overviews of the associations that endorse JTAM. We will promote discussion, debate, and sharing of opinions regarding best practice by soliciting commentaries on one or more articles in every issue. We are pleased to receive research reports on operationally relevant topics, but we strongly encourage and will actively solicit non-empirical submissions. If you have an idea for a submission, please contact me or one of the other Senior Editors —we will be happy to discuss your idea and help you maximize its appropriateness for JTAM.

Journal of Threat Assessment and Management

Volume 1, Issue 1

 

Upcoming Events

Association of European Threat Assessment Professionals
Annual Conference

April 7-11, 2014
Stockholm, Sweden
Learn more

Northern Networking Events
Violence Risk Training Workshops

April 29-May 2, 2014
Edinburgh, Scotland
Learn more

Helse Bergen
Violence Risk 2014

May 12-May 16, 2014
Edinburgh, Scotland
Learn more

Workshops in English

International Launch of the PATRIARCH
May 12, 2014

PATRIARCH Workshop
May 13-14, 2014

PCL-R Workshop
May 13-14, 2014

Advanced Risk Workshop
May 15-16, 2014

CAPP Workshop
May 15-16, 2014

RSVP/SVR-20 Workshop
May 15-16, 2014

SAPROF Workshop
May 13, 2014

Violence Triage Workshop
May 14, 2014

Violence Triage Workshop
May 15, 2014

Assessing Stalking Risk Workshop

May 28-29, 2014
London, England
Learn More

ProActive ReSolutions
Violence Risk Assessment and Management Workshop

June 9-13, 2014
Guelph, Ontario
Learn more

Ryerson University and ProActive ReSolutions
Violence Triage in Higher Education Workshop

June 16, 2014
Toronto, Ontario
For more information contact Imre Juurlink at ijuurlin@ryerson.ca
or Terry Johnston at terry.johnston@ryerson.ca

International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services
Annual Conference

June 19-22, 2014
Toronto, Canada
Learn more

ProActive ReSolutions
Violence Triage in Forensic Mental Health Workshop

June 22, 2014
Toronto, Canada
Learn more

Association of Threat Assessment Professionals
Annual Conference

August 12-15, 2014
Anaheim, California
Learn more

Canadian Association of Threat Assessment Professionals
Annual Conference

October 19-23, 2014
Whistler, British Columbia
Learn more

Asia Pacific Association of Threat Assessment Professionals
Annual Conference

November 26-28, 2014
Brisbane, Australia
Learn more

 

Contribute

We welcome ideas for contributions from all readers. E-mail your suggestions to the editor kwatt@proactive-resolutions.com or associate editor rkropp@proactive-resolutions.com

Visit us at www.proactive-­resolutions.com


Follow us on Twitter! @buildingrespect

 

Editorial Board

Dr. Henrik Belfrage
Mid Sweden University

Geoff Brown
Microsoft ASIA / President, APATAP

Dr. Laura Guy
ProActive ReSolutions Inc.

Keith Hammond
Vancouver Police Department/ President, CATAP

Dr. Stephen D. Hart
ProActive ReSolutions Inc.

Dr. David James
Fixated Threat Assessment Centre

Dr. P. Randy Kropp
ProActive ReSolutions Inc.

Dr. J. Reid Meloy
Forensis, Inc.

Dr. Kris Mohandie
Operational Consulting International, Inc.

Dr. John Monahan
University of Virginia

Dr. Mario Scalora
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Glenn Sheil
Ontario Provincial Police

Dr. Lorraine Sheridan
Curtain University

Chuck Tobin
AT-RISK International / President, ATAP

Bram van der Meer
Van der Meer Investigative / President, AETAP

Dr. Kelly A. Watt
ProActive ReSolutions Inc.

Dr. Patricia Zapf
John Jay College of Criminal Justice / CONCEPT