Accounting for Risk and Danger Practice Checklists: Coordinating Risk Assessment in Domestic Violence Cases

Identifying and documenting risk factors for serious or lethal intimate partner violence (IPV) should be incorporated into each step of the criminal justice intervention. A community’s coordinating council or task force can spearhead an examination of current practices to uncover gaps that exist in identifying, documenting and transmitting risk information throughout the criminal justice intervention. To assist such an assessment, BWJP has developed the Accounting for Risk and Danger Practice Checklists for each practitioner in the intervention process. The checklists can help a jurisdiction ensure that its criminal justice response identifies and addresses potential risks to victims, based on sound research on risk factors associated with IPV. BWJP is available to provide training or technical assistance on the use of these checklists as your community responds to risk in intimate partner violence cases.

Recent research has provided guidance on risk factors associated with high risk cases. Validated assessment tools are now available and appropriate for use by different interveners in IPV cases. While communities are often excited about developing an enhanced response to high risk cases, this effort will not be effective if current basic practices fail to address risk in general within an effective coordinated interagency response .

The Accounting for Risk and Danger Practice Checklists can guide communities in examining their current response to IPV and identify: “How well does the current response address risk?” and prompts the assessors to ask: “What more could be done to improve reduction of risk, especially for victims who may be at high risk of serious, repeated or lethal violence?”

The Practice Checklists are based on the understanding that:

  • Victims may share different pieces of risk information with different interveners for a variety of reasons, and that information must be handled carefully in accordance with confidentiality laws and with a concern for victim safety.
  • Risk assessment should be an ongoing process in order to take account of changes in the victim’s and offender’s circumstances.
  • The most effective assessment of risk relies on a combination of information from valid risk assessment tools, practitioner expertise, offender history, and the victim’s perception of risk.
  • The effective management and containment of dangerous offenders requires interconnected practices among agencies that promotes accountability, including active monitoring, appropriate court-ordered services, and swift and certain consequences for re-assault or violations of court orders. 

If desired, BWJP can provide technical assistance in the use of the checklists and guide communities through the assessment. We would be happy to talk with you about initiating an assessment of your community’s response to risk in IPV cases.