Daphne Toolkit

Computerised assessment of risks of spousal assault in Europe - Assessment Guide SARA Canada

Project Reference Number: 

Computerised assessment of risks of spousal assault in Europe - Assessment Guide SARA Canada

Assessment of a Canadian model for assessing risks of spousal assault, with a view to determining its validity for Europe.


Violence in intimate relationships is a wide spread phenomenon affecting women from all backgrounds and cultures, and it does not seem to stop especially with regard to abused women wanting to end the relationships. Divorce and separation are the highest at-risk phase for re-offending or even killing the spouse in cases of intimate partner violence. The increased number of femicide and of women contacting shelters, has shown a paradox: with the increase of equality of the type of relationship between men and women in society, the house is still perceived, by some men, as a secret/owned place, where violence is used as a way to gain or maintain power dominance over women.

This project was developed and carried out in order to implement and validate in Italy and in Greece an innovative approach for assessing risk of recidivism in cases of spousal assault. The model Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide (SARA) was developed in Canada (Kropp & Hart, 2000) and imported and adopted in Europe first by Sweden (Belfrage, 2001), to provide police officers and workers in shelters with a standardized but flexible tool to better understand the risk of recidivism of spousal assault.

The project compared countries in terms of what police officers/judges actually do when evaluating offenders as at low, medium or high risk of re-offending. A digital/computerised easy-to-use version of the SARA (software) was developed for each country for pre-trial judgments, parole decision of release or civil matters (child custody). An international conference was organised to share results and promote SARA-C and a book was published.

Lessons and ideas

The project’s final report stressed that an approach used elsewhere cannot simply be transferred to another country (legislations are different, approaches and cultures are different). What is important is to have a structured and standardized way to face the problem of domestic violence in order to understand its level of risk and validate it and adapt it according to the socio-culture specific context. SARA can be expanded and extended to other parts of Europe and develop a protocol of intervention that resembles the ‘best practice’ developed in different countries.

Material available

CD-Rom: Computerised version of SARA
- Web-site : www.sara-project.org
- An Italian and Greek version of the SARA-PV and the complete SARA (20 items) was developed and edited
- Associazione Differenza Donna (Ed). La violenza in famiglia Contro le donne, un modo per prevenirla