Mentally disordered offenders : challenges in using the OASys risk assessment tool
This article examines the centrality of risk both within the Government's new proposals to tackle offending behaviour (Home Office 2004) and within the professional practice of probation officers within a large metropolitan area. The pre-occupation of the government with the potential dangerousness of mentally disordered offenders also provided a focus to this article. In order to explore these issues a small scale research project was undertaken into the use of eOASys as a risk assessment tool and whether it enabled practitioners to effectively identify those offenders who may potentially have mental health problems. The research also focused on whether this led to more effective and sensitive management of mentally disordered offenders and assisted practitioners to reduce their risk of re-offending and risk of harm to themselves or others. The key findings include the need for more detailed eOASys assessments; the importance of a consistent and sustained relationships between offender and probation officer to aid assessments; cases with incomplete eOASys assessments were the cases with little supplementary information and lacked the detailed analysis of past information contained in case records; issues of race and gender; and stereotyping of mental health issues.