Effective risk management planning ought to include strategies that help control and mitigate risk, as well as develop and strengthen client’s protective factors. The active risk management system (ARMS) is a structured risk assessment and management planning tool designed to assess both dynamic factors known to be related to sexual recidivism, along with protective factors that might support the desistance process. The tool was recently implemented across all police forces in England and Wales. The purpose of this paper is to examine police practitioner’s experience of the tool, their attitudes towards risk assessment, risk management planning, interviewing clients for the assessment and their perspective on strengths-based approaches in general.
A mixed method approach is adopted including one attitudinal measure: community attitudes towards sexual offender-revised (CATSO-R); and four focus groups, analysed using interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA).
CATSO-R results indicate that when compared to other populations, police officers appear to perceive sex offenders as dangerous, requiring severe punishment. These findings are supported in the IPA analysis where three themes highlight the following: principles and practices of the ARMS tool are incongruent with traditional policing; the negative values officers hold conflicts with a role that supports a process of reintegration and Training and supervision is insufficient to equip management of sexual offenders and violent offender’s with the skills and knowledge needed.
Only one study exists in which ARMS training and its pilot test were examined, this is the first empirical examination of its application in practice. Findings are therefore, of relevance to practitioners and academics alike.
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