Examining the Role of Offence-related Behaviours amongst High-risk Offenders

  • Ian Stewart Hamilton

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background: The post-release management of high-risk ex-prisoners is undermined by poor representation of such idiosyncratic offenders in actuarial calibration samples, and lack of empirical support for dynamic validity in risk-related change. Risk of harm to others is largely assessed by official misconducts and what an offender conveys to professionals. The use of recorded offence-related behaviour to augment risk assessment, which shows promise in the literature, therefore warranted exploration.
Method: In study 1, a systematic review examined the interaction between media
offence related behaviour and recidivism to better understand this relationship
amongst a population (ex-offenders) more likely to engage in negative behaviours. Eleven databases were enquired to identify relevant literature. To ensure no past and/or ongoing studies were excluded reference lists of key papers were closely examined and experts in the field were contacted. Study 2 applied grounded theory analysis to examine how high-risk ex-prisoners understand their offence-related behaviour in the evolution of their risk. Eight high-risk residents at approved premises collaborated. A novel aspect of study 2 was also its triangulation of assessment sources to better understand these processes.
Results: In study 1, synthesis of the few (n=3) studies highlighted that risk level and media type were factors in the formation of recidivism. For study 2, results indicated that all engaged in offence-related behaviours occurring in prison and/or in the community and often within the forum of media use. Unlike those on a pro-social pathway, those on a reoffending pathway felt disconnected and used media as an attempt to connect with others.
Conclusion: The present results have implications for risk management. The
recording, monitoring, and discussion of offence-related behaviour (including media offence-related behaviour), may better inform case-level risk management. Beneficial future research would expand the initial grounded theory and examine offenders’ relationship with media use over a longer follow-up, across offender groups and risk categorisations. The current research contributes to the literature by providing the first known systematic review in the field of media offence-related behaviour for high-risk offenders. It is also the first to examine media offence-related behaviours directly, exploring these in the context of the evolution of risk.
Date of Award2 Apr 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorDominic Pearson (Supervisor), Brian Malcolm McKenzie (Supervisor) & Adrian Paul Charles Needs (Supervisor)

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