Communities and Justice

Delivering the right correctional interventions to the right people

Corrections Research Evaluation and Statistics has supported Corrective Services NSW operations by developing automated tools that quickly and accurately estimate risk of recidivism.

Corrective Services NSW manages the largest number of people who are involved in the criminal justice system of any correctional agency in Australia. In order to effectively plan and deliver interventions that help reduce their likelihood of future contact with the system, it is important to understand their risk of recidivism.

Typically risk assessments are conducted manually by skilled staff. This can be a time consuming and laborious process, often taking several weeks to complete. It is also difficult to prioritise allocation of limited assessment resources in advance, meaning that many people who could benefit from intervention may not receive adequate case planning.

Taking the lead from other correctional jurisdictions and academic research, Corrections Research Evaluation and Statistics has worked with operational partners from Corrective Services NSW to develop automated risk assessment screening tools. These tools adopt an actuarial approach by using demographic and criminal history variables that are reliably available through criminal justice databases.

Through this automation process, risk estimates can be generated instantly and for large numbers of people simultaneously. These estimates can then be used to efficiently triage people managed by Corrective Services NSW into more comprehensive manual assessment and case planning. Estimates are also accurate, with research indicating predictive validity that is similar or superior to leading manual methods.

A first generation automated tool developed by Corrections Research Evaluation and Statistics received the NSW Premier’s Award for improving assessment efficiencies and reducing taxpayer costs. The current generation of tools (known as Triage Risk Assessment Scales or TRAS tools) are used in both custody and the community to support case management decisions at the individual and population level. In collaboration with academic researchers, additional work is currently underway to develop tools to efficiently and accurately estimate specific forms of recidivism among target groups such as sexual and domestic violence reoffending.

Last updated:

12 Nov 2021