Switzerland: the role of forensic psychiatric expertise

Can risk be predicted?

A variety of expertise is now used in criminal proceedings and treatment protocols. While pre-trial expertise is used to determine the criminal responsibility or irresponsibility of the accused, other expertise is needed at the end of incarceration to assess the risk of recidivism. The latter has been in greater demand the last few years, while the former has remained stable. Have priorities changed?

Philippe Delacrausaz is a psychotherapist and psychiatrist. He is the medical director of the Institut de psychiatrie légale du Centre hospitalier universitaire vaudois (CHUV) and an associate professor at UNIL. We asked him three questions.

The instruments may vary, but the method of expertise remains consistent.

It is impossible to assess if a person poses a threat. However, we can assess the risk of recidivism and the probability that someone who has already committed a crime will do so again.