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AIC: Predicting repeat domestic violence: Improving police risk assessment

Predicting repeat domestic violence: Improving police risk assessment

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has released a paper that examines how accurately a police risk assessment tool predicts repeat domestic violence.

  • The Family Violence Risk Assessment Tool (FVRAT) is a tool used by police in the ACT to inform their responses to domestic violence.
  • This study examines 350 unique cases of violence involving current or former intimate partners in which police used the FVRAT.
  • Importantly, the focus was on short-term repeat violence—whether further domestic violence was reported to police within six months—taking into account the police response to the initial incident.
  • The original FVRAT was not a strong predictor of repeat domestic violence. However, an empirically refined version of the FVRAT much more accurately predicts repeat domestic violence.
  • Items included in this refined tool include physical violence, injury to the victim, prior violence and breaches of court orders, threats or actual violence towards pets, recent separation, pregnancy or new birth, escalating violence and offender money problems.
  • While other risk factors such as strangulation, coercive control, alcohol and drug use and suicide threats and ideation may not predict further violence, they may still be important in identifying victims at risk of serious violence or harm. We recommend an approach that combines a shorter, more accurate risk assessment with structured professional judgement to help prioritise offenders and victims in need of immediate intervention.

The risk of further violence to victims is highest in the weeks and months following a domestic violence incident. Identifying those cases at the highest risk of short-term repeat violence is vital in informing the response of police and other frontline responders. These findings highlight the importance of evidence-based approaches to risk assessment.
The paper is available for free download on the AIC website:

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