The VRAG and SORAG

These are the Violence Risk Assessment Guide and Sex Offender Risk Assessment Guide (Quinsey, Harris, Rice and Cormier, 2006). They are considered together because they use exactly the same rationale, and were devised by the same research group. They follow a similar rationale to the Risk Matrix 2000 and Static-99, but use more items, including some personality and mental health items, such as the PCL-R. Both were originally developed on forensic psychiatric patients in Canada, and this may affect their applicability to prisoners in the UK. Compared with the Risk Matrix and the Static, they give age more weight, though still not enough, failing to allow for any increase in age beyond 35 years. Both allot people to risk categories, resulting in predictions over 7 years and 10 years. The SORAG, although intended for sex offenders, actually predicts the risk of violent reoffending. The authors class all sexual offending as violent in some sense.

Problems with the VRAG and SORAG

  1. Development on psychiatric patients leaves doubt as to their applicability to prisoners.
  2. They may not travel well: several studies suggest  over-estimates of risk in British samples by a factor of two!
  3. Studies suggest that the main predictive value comes from the inclusion of the PCL-R, and drops dramatically if this is removed or not available.
  4. Otherwise, there are similar problems to other “actuarials”.
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