Structured risk assessment aims to help clinicians classify offenders according to likelihood of future violent and criminal behaviour. We investigated how confident clinicians can be using three commonly used instruments (HCR-20, VRAG, OGRS-II) in individuals with different diagnoses. Moderate to good predictive accuracy for future violence was achieved for released prisoners with no mental disorder, low to moderate for clinical syndromes and personality disorder, but accuracy was no better than chance for individuals with psychopathy. Comprehensive diagnostic assessment should precede an assessment of risk. Risk assessment instruments cannot be relied upon when managing public risk from individuals with psychopathy.