Dysfunctional expertise and its relationship with dynamic risk factors in offenders

Zarah Vernham, Claire Nee

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Predicting the risk an offender poses is vital for protecting the public and/or the offender themselves; thus reducing recidivism rates. Dynamic risk factors are useful for informing treatment programmes because of their changeability. However, the current conceptualisation of dynamic risk factors has recently been under scrutiny within the rehabilitation literature, because their categorical nature lacks description and cannot explain the underlying causal mechanisms of offending behaviours. Expertise is a new area within the rehabilitation literature that examines the decision-making processes involved across the offending episode (prior, during, and after a crime). It is one example of how looking more closely at the processes the offender employs across the offending episode might help to understand more clearly some of the mechanisms underlying dynamic risk factors. This article first discusses the literature and theoretical models that have been proposed with regard to risk prediction and offender expertise, before exploring the links between the two. Using a theoretical framework, which moves away from a deficit-based focus to one in which emphasis is placed on the offender's own personal agency, the authors describe how the competencies underpinning cognition can be used as a starting point for positive change. Implications for offender treatments are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-67
JournalPsychology, Crime & Law
Issue number1-2
Early online date19 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • WNU


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