Targeting the Optimal Domestic Violence Offender: Shifting from clinical risk to actuarial harm

Mr Andrew Hurst1,2

1NSW Police Force, Sydney, Australia
2University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom


Following an Intimate Partner Domestic Violence Incident (IPV), what relevant factors can predict the amount of harm caused by the same offender over the next two years?

This study concerns 48,293 incidents of ‘Domestic Violence’ with a classification of ‘intimate partner’, recorded by the New South Wales Police Force in the Computerised Operational Policing System (COPS) over a two-year period between 1st of January 2015 through to 31st December 2016. The independent variables were 97 predictors, obtained from the prior offending history of each offender involved in each presenting IPV incident.

The 48,293 incident-offenders committed 72,292 offences and generated 2.4 million days of crime harm. The offences committed during the presenting IPV incident included Violence Offences (60.5%), Property Offences (16.9%), and Serious Offences (1.9%).

The findings revealed the average offender was engaging in non-crime contact with police (23.18 years), serious offending (27.43 years), and violent offending (28.47 years), all prior to the average age of the first domestic related offence (30.46 years), pointing towards generalist offending.

83.5% incident-offenders had a prior history of violence, 82.6% had a prior history of domestic violence, and 33.7% had a prior history of property offences.

58.0% of offenders had committed a prior serious offence, 65.0% had a prior drug offence, and 83.5% had a prior violence offence.

80% of the post-incident harm was attributed to just 11.80% of the incidents, generating a minimum of 147.65 days of crime harm, committed by the same offender, over the following two years from the presenting IPV incident.


Superintendent Andrew Hurst is the Commander of the NSW Police Force Crime Prevention Command which incorporates the

  • Crime Prevention Support Unit
  • Domestic & Family Violence Team
  • Mental Health Intervention Team
  • Aboriginal Coordination Team
  • Program Development Team

He has been a member of the NSW Police Force for 26 years and has spent most of his career in Western NSW including Bourke, Wilcannia, Wellington and Dubbo.

Andrew is dedicated to continuous improvement, innovation and collaborative, evidence-based approaches to policing.

He has studied widely, graduating with Distinction from the University of Cambridge (Master of Studies – Applied Criminology & Police Management), and graduating with Distinction from Charles Sturt University (Master of Business Administration – Law Enforcement and Security).

He has also completed Executive Education at the Harvard Business School (High Potentials Leadership Program) and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (Senior Executives in State & Local Government)

Andrew has devoted significant time to addressing domestic violence in the community and in 2020 was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to research programs in the USA, UK and Canada that positively change the behaviours of domestic violence offenders, thereby reducing harm to victims.

He is exploring the role of cautioning, mental health counselling, drug and alcohol counselling and general case management in reducing the reoffending rates of domestic violence perpetrators and is an advocate for cross-agency collaboration.

In 2021 Andrew was appointed by White Ribbon Australia as a White Ribbon Community Partner.