Predicting Criminality? Risk Factors, Neighbourhood Influence and Desistance

Colin Webster, Robert Macdonald, Mark Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Using qualitative biographical data from a longitudinal study of youth transitions, criminal careers and desistance, this paper casts doubt on the veracity and predictive power of risk assessment devices such as Asset and OASys. These devices, and the research on which they are based, suggest that earlier and current childhood and teenage influences trigger and sustain later re-offending. In contrast, we argue that focus must be shifted to contingent risk factors that accrue in late teenage and young adulthood. Secondly, risk assessment and criminal career research has ignored the influence that unforeseen and unforeseeable processes of neighbourhood destabilization and life events have in criminal careers and their cessation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-22
Number of pages16
JournalYouth Justice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


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