Psychological reports for sentencing juveniles in Australian courts
Taylor and Francis
School of Arts and Humanities
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.