Getting Started

Welcome to the Risk of Harm Guidance and Training Resources. The Guide is split into six core sections. These are listed in the left column along with other supporting sections such as the User Guide, an alphabetical Index, Notes for Managers and Notes for Trainers. It is suggested that you continue to read the rest of this Welcome page, before moving onto view the User Guide.

Highlights of New Content and Thinking

The most significant new material and navigational changes since the last version of this CD are highlighted in the New Material and Changes section lower down on this page.

To get started in viewing the training material please go to Section 1: Key Concepts and Definitions.


These resources have been produced by staff at De Montfort University (Author and Development staff information can be found on the biographies page) in association with the National Offender Management Service and HM Prison Service. We hope you find them useful, easy to use and enjoyable.

Logos of associated organisations: De Montfort University, NOMS and HM Prison Service.

The assessment and management of the risk of harm is an important topic and essential to the safety of the public and the protection of victims. The risk of harm is central to many of the tasks across the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).

Public protection is a core aim of NOMS. The assessment and management of the risk of harm is essential to how well this is delivered. This set of resources is designed to help you develop your knowledge and skill, and to increase your competence and confidence with this difficult area of work.

Help Using These Resources

These resources include a comprehensive User Guide which can be accessed at any time by clicking on the User Guide menu option from the left hand side of the screen.


To change the colour scheme click of the web pages in this guide click on the appropriate links below:

To change the text size within your browser of the web pages in this guide you can:

  • Hold down the ‘Ctrl’ key and use the mouse wheel.
  • Hold down the ‘Ctrl’ key and press the ‘+’ or ‘-’ keys.
  • Go to the ‘View’ menu and then ‘Text Size’ or 'Zoom'.
  • Use the 'Zoom' function. (specific web browsers only e.g. Google Chrome).

Further information on Accessibility can be found in the Accessibility section of the User Guide.

New Material and Changes

Since the last version of these resources in May 2008 the content has been substantially developed to take account of changes in legislation, policy and practice and new understandings deriving from current research and theory. It is hard to do justice to the extent of thinking that is now represented in the resources but we hope that this summary will whet your appetite for new thinking and ideas for improving risk practice.

Those new to the resources and to this subject area, don't need to be concerned with the changes listed below, but can simply engage with them as a whole. Many users are however familiar with the earlier version, so this summary is intended to help you find some significant changes more easily.

This summary does not encompass all of the changes. New documents are included in the resources which aren't listed here, but which you will encounter as you work with them, for example the NOMS position statement on the Assessment and Management of Sex Offenders 2010, recent guidance and policy in relation to safeguarding children and in relation to MARACs.

Most sections have small alterations such as updated references and detailed amendments to thinking which can be equally helpful, so when using the resources be alert to the range of improvements that run throughout them. For example, you will find examples and principles of good practice in information sharing.

Finally this summary gives you some links to follow to go straight to the relevant sections, but please be aware that information about the subjects below will be found at other points in the guide; these links are just intended to be starting points.

A brief overview for each section is as follows:

Section 1: Key Concepts and Definitions

Up to date definitions commensurate with current NOMS policy, learning from Serious Further Offences, including the Dano Sonnex case (See Section 1.7), best practice guidance from SFO reviews (See Section 1.7) and key questions to establish risk of harm, a table of risk levels which helps to clarify the meaning of low, medium, high and very high categorisations. This table is returned to in Section 2 (See Section 1.7 and Section 2.6.4).

Section 2: Basic Risk Assessment

New research into OASys and changes to it including OGP and OVP (See Section 2.2 and Section 2.2.1), a new section on working with diversity (See Section 2.4.2), further thinking about denial and excuses (See Section 2.4.5), engaging the offender and the Good Lives Model which is returned to in section 4 (See Section 2.4.2, Section 2.4.3 and Section 2.4.6), a new section on Working with Young Offenders in Transition (See Section 2.5), scenario planning which is returned to in Section 4 (See Section 2.6.1 and Section 4.2.1) and a new offence analysis model (See Section 2.6).

Section 3: Advanced Risk Assessment

Update on RM 2000, Assessment of sexual offenders with learning disabilities (See Section, Update on assessment of female sexual offenders (See Section, key risk assessment tools for sexual and violent offenders, an update on Violent Street Gangs (See Section, Information about Threats to Kill (See Section, information about disability in the materials on Hate Crime (See Section, Update on domestic violence (See Section 3.6.2) and recent research and literature to support best practice in the use of dynamic risk factors for sexual and violent offending.

Section 4: Risk Management

As referred to above the motivation and engagement of high risk offenders including the good Lives Model (See Section 2.4.2, Section 2.4.3 and Section 2.4.6), Risk management planning and the use of approach goals, holistic and balanced risk management planning (See Section 4.2.1), Further risk management strategies, including behavioural agreements, targeting risky behaviours, and change plans, disclosure and information exchange which is also covered in Section 5 (See Section 4.7 and Section 5.2) and public protection and human rights legislation (See Section 4.7).

Section 5: Working with Other Agencies

Information sharing also referred to above (See Section 4.7 and Section 5.2), safeguarding Children, please note that the link takes you to the beginning of a substantial section which incorporated new information throughout many of the subsequent linked elements (See Section 5.3) and mental health which includes recent legislation and new developments in work with personality disorder (See Section 5.4).

Section 6: Best Practice and Avoiding Errors

An update on the impact of risk assessment tools on the assessment of risk (See Section 6.2), new developments in NOMS around the skills of practitioners (See Section 6.3.5) and an update on working with others (See Section 6.4.1).

Additionally there has been some changes to how you can navigate through the guide.

General Navigation

  • Use the Plus Sign from the left hand side navigation menu to easily access any page in the guide.
  • Improved Tab Key Navigation.
  • All resources and activities for one section easily accessible from a page in the 'notes for trainers' section.
  • Updated Search Facility.


  • May 2011 - Version 4.36
  • May 2008 - Version 3.05
  • May 2007 - Version 2.06
  • August 2006 - Version 1.0
  • 8th June 2006 - Special Edition issued at the National Risk of Harm Conference.


More about the developers of this resources can be found viewing the De Montfort University Staff Biographies.

To get started in viewing the training material please go to Section 1: Key Concepts and Definitions.