I had an enquiry yesterday from a client’s girl friend regarding him being placed on MAPPA when he is released from prison in January. It occurred to me that there are probably a lot of people out there who don’t really understand what MAPPA is, who it really applies to and whether or not you have any right to question it. I hope this is helpful.
What is MAPPA?
MAPPA stands for Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements and it is the process through which various agencies such as the police, the Prison Service and Probation Service work together to protect the public by managing the risks posed by violent and sexual offenders living in the community.
What is the aim of MAPPA?
The aim of MAPPA is to manage the risks that violent and sexual offenders pose to the public by managing the risks associated with these categories of offenders. The various agencies share information about offenders under MAPPA in order to assess the level of risk they pose to the public.
Who is placed under MAPPA?
There are three categories of MAPPA offenders:
Category One – All registered sexual offenders. Registered sexual offenders are required to notify the police of their name, address and personal details under the terms of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Category Two – Violent or other sex offenders not subject to notification requirements, including violent offenders who have been sentenced to 12 months or more, or to detention in hospital, and who are now living in the community subject to Probation supervision.
Category Three – Other dangerous offenders who have committed an offence in the past and who are considered to pose a risk of serious harm to the public.
How does MAPPA work?
All relevant offenders are assessed to establish the level of risk of harm they pose to the public. Risk management plans are then worked out for each offender to manage those risks. MAPPA allows agencies to assess and manage offenders on a multi-agency basis by working together, sharing information and meeting as necessary to ensure that effective plans are put in place.
There are three levels of MAPPA management which are based on the level of attention and resources required to put effective plans in place. Levels one and two are solely based on the offence and disposal, while category three is based on previous offending and current risk management.
Level 1 – Ordinary agency management is for offenders who can be managed by one or two agencies, such as the police and Probation, and will involve sharing information about the offender with other agencies if necessary and appropriate. Ninety-five per cent of offenders are managed at this level, usually by a single police or probation officer, although it is the police who are ultimately responsible for managing those under MAPPA.
Level 2 – A local multi-agency management for offenders where the ongoing involvement of several agencies is needed to manage the offender. Once at level 2 there will be regular multi-agency public protection (MAPP) meetings about the offender to develop a coordinated plan.
Level 3 – These are known as Multi-Agency Protection Panels, which are more demanding on resources and aimed at those who are deemed to pose the highest risk of causing serious harm, or whose management is particularly problematic.
What is a management plan?
A management plan is highly specific to each offender and their offending history, but might include any of the following:
- Accommodation at an Approved Premises (AP) where the offender can be monitored.
- A set of licence conditions such as having contact with children, or going within an exclusion zone in a town/city.
- A Civil Order such as a Sex Offender Prevention Order (SOPO) to prevent the offender engaging in certain activities, such as not entering a town where a victim resides or not to have unsupervised contact with children.
- A duty to report to an Offender Manager every week to undertake offending reduction counseling and work as part of their licence.
- In some very extreme cases there may be covert monitoring of offenders to protect the public.
- A disclosure of information to a member of the public for their protection.
The MAPPA system cannot guarantee the protection of the public as such, but can only ‘manage’ the risks as effectively as possible through the limited powers of each agency. This means that all steps that can be legitimately taken by the agencies should be taken. MAPPA decision making is frequently fraught with dilemmas. For example, it is not uncommon for a MAPPA meeting to decide to disclose to a member of the public about an offender’s risk to protect that individual or somebody else. However, each time that a disclosure is made the Panel loses control of the way that information is used.
How do I know if I am a MAPPA offender?
If you are subject to MAPPA you will be notified or will already have been notified. Your local MAPPA coordinator can provide you with general information, and about discussions that have taken place about you, usually in the form of a summary of the minutes of the meeting. If you feel that you have been made subject to MAPPA incorrectly then it is possible to contact the Chair of the Strategic Management Board for MAPPA in your local area.
How does being under MAPPA affect me?
If you have specific support needs, such as issues with drugs or alcohol, or mental health, being under MAPPA can help you find the support that you need.
You will not be invited to attend MAPPA meetings but it is important that you work with the agencies supporting you to lower your risk level and reduce your chances of reoffending.
While you are under MAPPA, you may have certain restrictions about travelling abroad.
In terms of seeking employment, you may have specific restrictions about who you can or cannot work with and where you can or cannot work (for example, if you are subject to exclusion zones). Being under MAPPA does not directly affect when your conviction becomes spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act as this will be determined by the sentence you received in court. However, your MAPPA agencies may enforce the disclosure of your criminal record to a prospective employer if they feel there may be specific risks that the employer needs to assess and manage.
How long will I be under MAPPA?
This will depend on your categorisation:
- Category 1: Registered Sexual Offenders – until your period of registration finishes.
- Category 2: Violent and other sexual offenders – until your licence or hospital order (including any restriction order) period
- Category 3: Other dangerous offenders – until a decision is made that the level of risk has reduced enough to allow you to be removed from MAPPA.
How is my risk level assessed?
There are various risk assessment tools that the police and/or probation use to assess and monitor the risk that you may pose. Examples of risk factors that might increase your current level of risk include:
- Drinking alcohol or taking drugs
- Having access to potential victims
- Taking a sexual interest in children
- Not managing your feelings appropriately
- Blaming others for your problems
- Thinking about sex a lot
Examples of factors that might reduce your level of risk include:
- Having friends and a strong support network
- Having a job or being active within your community
- Complying with any treatment programmes or other requirements set by the agencies supporting you
- Making a demonstrable commitment to not reoffending
Can my MAPPA details ever be disclosed to the public?
It is not possible to eliminate all risks and some offenders continue to pose a risk to others. In order to protect the public, there are occasions when information from a MAPPA meeting is disclosed to another person or group of people in order to either protect them directly, or for them to protect others.
Where information is disclosed, it is only to ensure that the public are being protected. The person disclosing the information will explain why the information is being disclosed and should give advice on what will happen afterwards. The information remains confidential and must not be shared without the permission of the person who made the disclosure. Every MAPPA meeting decides whether disclosure should take place.