The CYRAS-YRS: a validation study of a risk-assessment instrument for young offenders.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
A substantial proportion of criminal offending, particularly serious offending, is perpetrated by a small group of repeat, serious offenders who continue offending over a long period of time, often beginning in childhood. The Youth Risk Screen (YRS) is an instrument designed to measure risk of recidivism for young offenders. In this study, the YRS was adjusted slightly for adaptation to CYRAS, a computerised database at the Child, Youth and Family service (CYF). The new instrument thus derived, the CYRAS-YRS, was then used to score the data for 425 cases from the CYRAS database. There were 190 females and 235 males in this study. The data were analysed in order to examine the psychometric properties of the CYRAS-YRS: first its reliability or internal consistency, and then its validity in predicting risk of reoffending. The CYRAS-YRS was found to have suitable reliability, and was found to successfully predict offending, with a correlation of 0.311 (p < 0.001) with a general reoffending measure, and a correlation of 0.370 (p < 0.001) with a serious reoffending measure. Both primary school age risk factors and other risk factors were found to predict reoffending. However, it was also found that the relationship between primary school age risk factors and reoffending seemed to be mediated completely by the presence or absence of risk factors that can apply at any age and that most typically appear later during adolescence. All of these findings were true for both male and female young offenders, thus demonstrating that these findings were robust and consistent across different subgroups of the sample. Sex differences were minimal, and the CYRAS-YRS was successfully validated as a promising instrument for predicting risk of reoffending in young offenders of either sex.