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Risk assessment of offenders with an autism spectrum disorder

Purpose – Integral to the process of formulating and managing the difficulties of mentally disordered offenders is the assessment of risk. However, the opinion held by many clinicians who work with offenders with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is that most conventional risk assessment tools fail to capture the underlying reasons why such individuals may offend. This needs to be explored. Design/methodology/approach – The paper presents a screening study of the HCR 20 risk assessment tool and some other characteristics of ‘high risk’ individuals with an ASD. Also presented is a brief literature review supported by clinical experience of the assessment of psychopathy in ASD and highlighting potential key factors to be included in a risk assessment of offenders with an ASD. Findings – It was found that nine out of the 20 risk items contained in the HCR 20 are present in 50 per cent or less of the sample. Whilst some conventional risk factors are present, clinical experience and the literature suggests that it is the specific difficulties associated with having an ASD that contribute towards an individual's vulnerability to offend. Originality/value – Although further examination is required, provisional findings from this small screening study of the HCR 20 profiles of high risk individuals with an ASD questions the usefulness of some conventional risk factors in understanding the difficulties within this population. It is proposed that there is a need for good practise guidelines for assessing risk in individuals with an ASD. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour Emerald Publishing
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