The development of a new risk model: The Threat Matrix



The risk assessment of sex offenders has evolved rapidly over a 20-year period. However, there is still disparity between empirically evaluated approaches and the needs within the applied context. This article discusses the division between the current needs in the applied setting of sex offender risk assessment, and the existing approaches to risk assessment. It highlights key needs that ought to be responded to, to continue the evolution of sex offender risk assessment (i.e., increased automation of processes, additional emphasis on early identification and prevention, and the targeting of resources towards risk). A new risk assessment model termed the Threat Matrix is introduced as a proposed response to these needs. The new model uses information derived from police systems to make proactive assessments of those who may pose a risk of sexual violence, but who have not been convicted of sexual offences. The practical and ethical implications of implementing and testing this model are discussed.