Psychological reports for sentencing juveniles in Australian courts

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title



Taylor and Francis


School of Arts and Humanities


Bycroft, D., Dear, G. E., & Drake, D. (2019). Psychological reports for sentencing juveniles in Australian courts. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 26(3), 355-374. doi:10.1080/13218719.2018.1506713


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 (FMHAs) 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.




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