Risk Factor Research (RFR) has had a dominating influence on youth justice policy and practice in England and Wales for over a decade with the basic principle being to identify those risk factors associated with offending and implement measures or interventions designed to counteract them. However, the developmental focus of RFR and use of classical / frequentist statistical techniques has resulted in studies of the risk factor-offending relationship for young people which it could be argued are overly superficial, generalised and insensitive.
My research therefore adopts a Bayesian approach and will utilise novel statistical techniques to address the conceptualised risk factor-reoffending relationship. In doing so, it is hoped that it will be possible to extend the range of ‘risk factors’ considered beyond the restricted set of the traditional psychosocial to include sociological / structural variables and the impact of interventions. Rather than demonstrating static statistical associates between broad categories of risk factors and offending, the intention is to explore the web of complex relations between a range of factors and a range of outcomes.
A key element of the research will be an exploration of the relationship between risk factors and reoffending within different crime types (eg property crimes, violent and sexual offending) and for different features of a ‘criminal career’ (eg frequency, duration, seriousness and escalation), as well as non-reoffending.