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Abstract: Assessing Changes in Risk and Recidivism with Correctional Treatment

The primary objective of correctional treatment is to reduce the risk of recidivism and violence.  Assessing changes in risk and recidivism with treatment is therefore key.  The presentation will discuss the development and research of the Violence Risk Scale (VRS) and the Violence Risk Scale - sexual offender version (VRS-SO).  The tools were developed not only to assess risk of violent and sexual offending respectively but also to guide treatment by identifying treatment targets and measure risk changes in treatment.  Research evidence showed that reductions in risk during treatment assessed by the VRS and the VRS-SO were linked to reduction in violent and sexual recidivism respectively in the community in long term follow-up studies.

Dr. Stephen Wong, Ph.D. is a forensic psychologist and currently Honorary Professor at the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, UK and Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan, Canada.  He is a member of the Correctional Services Advisory and Accreditation Panel, National Offender Management Service, Ministry of Justice, UK.  He was staff psychologist, then the Chief of Psychology and Research and then Director of Research at the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from 1981 to 2008 where he practiced and carried out research on the assessment and treatment of high risk offenders and psychopaths for over 25 years.  He spent a year at the Institute of Psychiatry, London as Visiting Professor in 2009 before joining the Institute of Mental Health in Nottingham.  Together with his colleagues, he developed the Violent Risk Scale and the Violence Risk Scale-sexual offender version and the Violence Reduction Programme that are now used internationally in the assessment and rehabilitation work of high risk and violence prone forensic clients.  He is the lead author of the monograph on the treatment of psychopathy with Dr. Robert Hare.  He received a number of honours including the Saskatchewan Protective Services Medal in 2009, the Career Achievement Award from the Criminal Justice Section of the Canadian Psychological Association in 2008, the Corrections Exemplary Service Medal in 2003, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2002, was elected Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association in 2002, the Best Practice Award for research by the American Correctional Association in 1998 and the 125th Anniversary of Confederation Medal of Canada in 1993.