Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Will You Run? The Development of a Risk Assessment Tool to Predict Absconding from Secure Youth Justice Residences

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posted on 2021-12-09, 06:25 authored by Wood, Jesse

Absconding, or escaping, from usually state-based custody is a growing problem in different settings across the world, including New Zealand’s secure youth justice residences. This thesis provides an in-depth review of absconding from Oranga Tamariki’s secure youth justice residences in New Zealand, providing important insight that will be useful in preventing absconding in the future. A review of the international and New Zealand absconding literature was conducted looking at the risk and protective factors associated with absconding risk. From this, a coding framework of absconding related factors was developed, and then applied to historic absconding incident reports and interviews with Oranga Tamariki staff members. These were analysed to confirm potential absconding risk or protective factors and identify any new factors. Results fell into four key categories: individual (e.g. previous absconding history), relational (e.g. avoidance goals), contextual risk factors (e.g. significant life stressors), and protective factors (e.g. positive staff relationships). Several implications and conclusions were drawn from the findings. Absconding factors identified in international research were also present in the current research adding weight to these as potential risk and protective factors in a New Zealand context (Martin et al., 2018; Powers et al., 2018; Pyrooz, 2012). Novel absconding related factors were identified which were not found in the extant literature, such as planning indications, ringleaders, and hope. The reasons young people abscond are complex and individual, however, they abscond for reasons that make sense—often as a coping strategy—and thus are identifiable. By identifying these underlying reasons, it is possible to intervene and reduce their absconding motivations. A preliminary risk assessment tool aimed at doing this, was created for Oranga Tamariki use, incorporating factors drawn from the current research and the wider literature.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Forensic Psychology

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

Chair of Malay Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Fortune, Clare-Ann