Risk assessment of intimate partner violence in a police setting : reliability and predictive accuracy

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Risk assessment of intimate partner violence in a police setting : reliability and predictive accuracy

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Publication Doctoral Thesis
Title Risk assessment of intimate partner violence in a police setting : reliability and predictive accuracy
Author Svalin, Klara
Date 2018
English abstract
The Swedish Police Authority conducts violence risk assessments in cases of intimate partner violence (IPV) using specific assessment tools. Such assessments are conducted in order to identify high-risk offenders and thereafter implement suitable interventions to prevent repeat IPV. In this thesis, two different risk assessment tools have been evaluated: The Police Screening Tool for Violent Crimes (PST-VC) and the Brief Spousal Assault Form for the Evaluation of Risk (B-SAFER, Kropp, Hart, & Belfrage, 2005; 2010). The overall aim has been to contribute to improving the knowledge on police employees’ violence risk assessment and management, specifically with regard to the predictive validity and inter-rater reliability of such assessments. In the first study, we evaluated whether the PST-VC can be used by police employees to identify high-risk cases of repeat IPV. In addition, the preventive effects of the recommended crime preventive and victim protective actions were discussed and also whether these create a confounding problem with respect to predictive validity. The results showed that the predictive accuracy of the tool was fairly weak. Further, the assessors recommended a higher level of interventions in high-risk cases, but these did not reduce the rate of repeat IPV. Study II aimed to examine the inter-rater reliability of the PST-VC and the BSAFER. Police employees conducted pairwise assessments of IPV cases using one of these tools. The tools were evaluated separately and the cases used for the assessments were different for each tool. This means that the consistency of the assessments could not be compared head-to-head across the tools. The results were nonetheless rather similar for both tools; the inter-rater reliability for the individual items was low for most of the individual factors, but was relatively high for the global risk assessments. A suggested explanation for this was that the assessors may have used their tacit knowledge, rather than the individual items, in their global risk assessments and that they shared this tacit knowledge, at least to some extent. The third study focused on the B-SAFER tool, and on the predictive accuracy of the individual items and the global risk assessments in relation to repeat IPV. The study also aimed to examine to what extent the recommended crime preventive and victim protective actions were implemented and whether these interventions had a preventive effect on repeat IPV. The predictive accuracy of the individual B-SAFER items and the global risk assessments was low overall. The majority of the recommended interventions were not implemented, and they did not prevent repeat IPV. The final study (IV) took the form of a systematic literature study with the aim of evaluating the predictive accuracy of IPV risk assessments conducted by practitioners in different settings, with IPV recidivism as the outcome measure. The number of studies that fulfilled the inclusion criteria was small (N= 11). One of these studies was conducted in a treatment setting, while all the others were conducted in criminal justice settings. The predictive accuracy for the global risk assessments ranged from low to medium, and the role of treatment or other interventions to prevent repeat IPV had been analyzed in one way or the other in eight of the studies. However, there was no consistency with regard to the importance of the interventions for repeat IPV. In summary, the predictive accuracy of the police employees’ IPV risk assessments was rather low, and the same applied to the inter-rater reliability for most of the individual items included in the tools. The level of consistency was higher, however, for the global risk assessments. The IPV preventive interventions were not effective in preventing repeat IPV. The predictive validity of IPV risk assessments conducted in other settings was found to be similar, but results regarding the potential mediating role of interventions were mixed.
DOI https://doi.org/10.24834/2043/24791 (link to publisher's fulltext.)
Publisher Malmö university, Faculty of Health and Society
Series/Issue Malmö University Health and Society Doctoral Dissertation;2018:4
ISSN 1653-5383
ISBN 9789171048981
9789171048998
Pages 98
Language eng (iso)
Subject Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
Included papers
  1. I. Svalin, K., Mellgren, C., Torstensson Levander, M., & Levander, S. (2017). Assessing and managing risk for intimate partner violence: Police employees’ use of the Police Screening Tool for Violent Crimes in Scania. Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention. Vol. 18, 1: 84-92. doi: 10.1080/14043858.2016.1260333

  2. II. Svalin, K., Mellgren, C., Torstensson Levander, M., & Levander, S. (2017). The Inter-Rater Reliability of Violence Risk Assessment Tools Used by Police Employees in Swedish Police Settings. Nordisk Politiforskning. Vol. 4, 1: 9-28. doi: 10.18261/ISSN.1894-8693-2017- 01-03

  3. III. Svalin, K., Mellgren, C., Torstensson Levander, M., & Levander, S. (2018). Police employees' violence risk assessments: The predictive validity of the B-SAFER and the significance of protective actions. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. Vol. 56: 71-79. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2017.09.001

  4. IV. Svalin, K. The predictive validity of intimate partner violence risk assessments conducted by practitioners in different settings – A review of the literature.

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