Virtual reality: a use case for criminal justice practice

Liza J.M. Cornet*, Jean Louis van Gelder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, virtual reality (VR) technology has convincingly demonstrated its potential for assessment, training, rehabilitation and treatment purposes in a variety of domains, including (mental) healthcare and education. This paper explores the possibilities for VR application within criminal justice practice. Criminological literature and literature of related disciplines on VR applications were reviewed with a special focus on risk assessment, correctional rehabilitation, and reintegration. We also devoted attention to the VR-based treatment of anxiety-related disorders among victims of crime. Literature shows that VR can provide safe learning environments that would otherwise involve risk, generate ethical and ecologically valid virtual alternatives for which real-life situations would be unethical to use, and develop environments that are impossible to create in the real life. These unique characteristics make VR a promising tool to expand the current toolbox of risk assessment instruments, and correctional rehabilitation and reintegration programs in important ways. Before implementing VR in criminal justice practice, an elementary understanding of both the advantages and disadvantages of VR technology is desirable but given a longstanding and effective VR tradition in other domains, the future of VR in criminal justice practice is bright.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-647
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2020


  • Correctional rehabilitation
  • Criminal justice practice
  • Reintegration
  • Risk assessment
  • Virtual reality
  • n/a OA procedure


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