Last updated 12:35 02/10/2013
Criminal assessments 'utterly useless'
"Assessment tools used to predict how likely a psychopathic prisoner is to re-offend if freed from jail are "utterly useless" and parole boards might just as well flip a coin when deciding such risks, psychiatrists say.
Publishing a study that found risk score tools were only about 46 per cent accurate on how likely psychopathic convicts were to kill, rape or assault again, they said probation officers and judges should set little or no store by such tests.
They warned that clinicians carrying out such classifications must be aware of their severe limitations, and make sure prisoners undergo comprehensive psychiatric diagnosis before any risks assessment is made.
"If you apply these (tests) to somebody who is a psychopath, they're utterly useless, you might as well toss a coin," said study leader Jeremy Coid, director of the forensic psychiatry research unit at Queen Mary University of London.
"They will not predict accurately at all," he told reporters at a briefing in London about his findings.
Coid and other forensic psychiatrists said the findings - which also showed the tools performed only moderately well in prisoners with disorders like schizophrenia, depression, drug and alcohol dependence - could have major implications for risk assessment in criminal justice systems."