Reviewing reviews of professionals’ risk-taking decisions

David Carson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An extensive literature on risk has tended to focus upon the possibility of harms, rather than potential benefits, on risk assessment rather than risk management, and on the contributions and responsibilities of individual decision-makers, rather than their managers and employers for the systems within which they work. Risk aversion has been a consequence. This article uses a statement of 10 principles of professional risk-taking, which has been approved for the police and officially recommended for child protection practice, to consider recent developments. Whilst suggesting that such principles could support professional practice, and challenge risk aversion, it argues that little can be expected to change unless there are significant changes in the manner that professionals’ risk decisions are reviewed, when harm occurs. So the article identifies a further statement of 10 principles, which could govern how reviews are undertaken. It is readily recognised that some of the criticisms, identified here, have been acknowledged and are already being acted upon, to different degrees in different human services. But the article seeks to use the statements of principles as a means of pulling a large number of ideas together for integrated action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-409
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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