chapter  1
Violence risk assessment: from prediction to understanding – or from what? To why?
Pages 23

Perhaps Lindley’s statement should be on the desk of all forensic practitioners. Risk by defi nition is about uncertainty (Gigerenzer, 2004). It follows, therefore, that risk management is about the management of uncertainty. Uncertainty about violence engenders anxiety in professionals and the public alike. Fortunately, the last two decades have seen dramatic strides in the technology available to assist uncertainty reduction – the technology of risk management. In retrospect, three eras of risk assessment can be discerned: the era of unstructured professional judgement, the actuarial era, and the era of risk management through structured professional judgement – this fi nal era, we will argue, is transmuting into a fourth era, the era of risk formulation. It is important to recognize the achievements made so far (Otto and Douglas, 2010), but we must also be conscious of the limitations, and indeed the dangers, of some of the approaches that have gained acceptance within criminal justice systems. Lindley’s quotation suggests that forensic practitioners should approach the task of risk assessment with transparency, circumspection and humbleness.