The Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000, in conjunction with the Criminal Justice Act 2003, imposed duties on the police, probation and prison services to make arrangements for the identification, risk assessment and management of people with convictions for violent or sexual offences in the community. These arrangements are known as MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements). The Violent and Sexual Offenders Register (ViSOR) was developed to support it.
Aim of MAPPA
The aim of MAPPA is to identify relevant offenders, share information about them, assess the risks that they may pose and to manage those risks. MAPPA is intended to promote the sharing of information between all the agencies, resulting in more effective supervision and better public protection. For example, police may share information with probation officers that they have gathered about an offender’s behaviour from surveillance or intelligence gathering. Issues relating to the victims of crime and any possible contact which they might have with the former offender are also considered by MAPPA.
Categories and levels
The three formal MAPPA categories are:
- Category One: All Registered Sexual Offenders
- Category Two: Violent or other sex offenders not subject to notification requirements
- Category Three: Other dangerous offenders
Whilst the majority of individuals under MAPPA do not, under its own risk assessment, present a risk of serious harm to the public, the arrangements are designed to enable the agencies involved to target resources and attention on those who present the highest risks. As a result, those under MAPPA are managed at one of three ‘risk levels’:
- Level One: Involves normal agency management (cases with a low-medium risk of serious harm to others). This will be either the probation service (for people on community orders or on licence following release from prison) or the police (for registered sex offenders).
- Level Two: Often called local inter-risk agency management (cases with a high or very high risk of harm to others). MAPPA meetings take place to develop a coordinated plan between the police, the probation service and other agencies.
- Level Three: Known as Multi-Agency Public Protection Panels (or MAPPPs, reserved for those deemed to pose the highest risk of causing serious harm or whose management is so problematic that multi-agency co-operation and oversight at a senior level is required with the authority to commit exceptional resources). Only a relatively small number (924 in the year from April 2008 to March 2009) are categorised at this level – normally because they are either considered particulary dangerous or their case has received a lot of media coverage.
How do I know if I’m subject to MAPPA?
If you are subject to MAPPA you should be notified. For Categories 1 and 2, qualification for MAPPA is based solely on offence and disposal and for Category 3, on previous offending and current risk assessment. It is important to note that MAPPA does not give the supervising agencies any additional powers – it is merely a system for assessing and managing risk.
If you want information about discussions that have taken place about you at MAPPA meetings, you can request this formally from the local MAPPA Co-ordinator. The Co-ordinator will supply an executive summary of the minutes of the meeting. This is not a full version – some information relating to managing risk (such as the address of victims) will be removed.
If you feel you have been wrongly made subject to MAPPA, you (or your solicitor) should contact the Chair of the Strategic Management Board for MAPPA in your local area. You should be able to get details from your probation officer or from the head office of your local probation area. Contact details can be found here.
How will I be managed?
Approximately 95% of ‘registered sexual offenders’ in England and Wales are managed at level one of MAPPA and will usually be managed by either a single police or probation officer. The police are ultimately responsible for managing those under MAPPA. They often work in specially trained Public Protection Units (PPU’s) and are typically ‘plain-clothes’ officers.
As part of maintaining a risk management plan for each of the registered sexual offenders they manage, they will usually conduct home visits whilst an individual is subject to the Notification Requirements. The frequency of these visits will be related to the MAPPA risk level. As a minimum requirement, MAPPA level one cases will be visited once every twelve months, level two cases every six months and level three cases at least every three months. Any information or incident that indicates that an individual under MAPPA has an increased risk may prompt more frequent visits.
Individuals can move between MAPPA levels if assessed to be more or less dangerous over time. Violent offenders are no longer subject to MAPPA proceedings once their period of supervision by the probation service has ended.
Can details of my MAPPA status be disclosed to my family?
Family members are not automatically informed of somebody’s MAPPA status. However, in some cases a MAPPA meeting may decide that it is in the family’s interest to know. When living with a family member, typically the family will be visited by the probation service or the police, who will ensure that they are aware of any risks. Often, family members may have to agree to certain conditions, such as, where a conviction relates to offences against children, no unsupervised access to children by the individual.
Can details of my MAPPA status be disclosed to a third party?
Police or probation officers will always consider whether it is necessary to disclose information about an individual to protect the public and safeguard children. This applies to all categories and levels of MAPPA. Examples could be:-
- Where the public may be at risk through the offender’s employment, training or education.
- Where others may be at risk, e.g. in supported accommodation. This may include other service users, but usually it will be staff and managers who are told.
- Where there is a need to protect past or potential victims, in particular where an individual strikes up a new relationship with partners who have children or grandchildren. In some cases this may include friends or neighbours who have children.
Any disclosure must comply with the law, must be necessary for public protection, and must be proportionate.
Before a decision to disclose is made, consideration must be given to seeking representation from the individual concerned so that all the information necessary to make a properly informed decision is available. Seeking representation should be considered the norm.
If, having regard to individual circumstances, it is deemed necessary to disclose, it may be possible for an individual to make the disclosure to the third party himself/herself. This could either be in the presence of a police or probation officer or by allowing the police or probation officer to confirm and verify at a later date, the contents of the disclosure with the third party.
The latest MAPPA report for your area can be found here.
Official guidance on MAPPA is available here.