Psychological reports for sentencing juveniles in Australian courts [2019]

Psychological reports for use in court must be relevant to the legal issues in dispute, meet professional standards, and reflect evidence-based practice. Using the Delphi method, a high degree of consensus was found among Australian experts in the methodology and knowledge required for conducting forensic mental health assessment (FMHA’s) and the content needed in pre-sentence reports. Consensus was absent in two areas, if a pre-sentence report should always include a risk-assessment; and the need for a model to guide the FMHA. Without a model it is difficult for practitioners to justify their decision-making process, and judicial officers have no mechanism to determine if the work provided to the court is of an acceptable standard. Future research should focus on developing a model for presentence reports that includes a decision-making process and minimum standards. Researchers also need to determine judicial officers’ views on the helpfulness of presentence reports.

Debra Bycroft, Greg E. Dear & Deirdre Drake
Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 30 Jan 2019