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Inspection calls on forces to review sex offender management workloads

A joint thematic inspection into MAPPA has identified high and sometimes “excessive” MOSOVO workloads.

The inspection, conducted by HMI Probation, HMICFRS and HMIP, found that police offender management workloads ranged from 50 - 100 per officer, and that where workloads were higher than recommended levels “this compromised the effective management of offenders”. 

There are currently 87,000 sex and violent offenders, MAPPA nominals, who are managed under MAPPA arrangements. 98.4 per cent of MAPPA cases are at Level 1 ( the lowest level - meaning offenders are subject to regular reviews, and the information gained shared between all agencies working with that person). 

In general the management of sex offenders was found to be better than for violent offenders. 

Six forces in total were looked at during the inspection (Devon and Cornwall. North Wales, Greater Manchester, Cumbria, West Yorkshire and the Met), some of which kept national performance expectations in spite of excessive workloads which the inspection found “created excessive strain and pressure on staff”. 

One force, however, which has not been named, recognising the gap between expectation and resources, took the decision to limit activity for low and medium level offenders. This means fewer resources, home visits as well as moving more nominals to reactive management. 

To mitigate, the force completes monthly dip-samples for medium risk offenders which would include unannounced visits and polygraph tests. 

HMI Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell told Police Oracle: “We found that the quality of management of category one offenders (registered sex offenders) was consistent and generally a good quality across all levels. 

“Compared to some of what we found with prison and probation, the police were doing reasonably well.” 

When asked how forces might implement the recommendation to take mitigations where workloads were high, Chief Insp Russell explained that is for forces to decide how to implement and respond to recommendations. 

“We can direct forces to areas where effective practice is happening, they’d need to look at how they’re staffing MOSOVO units and whether they’re putting enough people into them relative to other areas,” he said. 

Moreover, staff views on the effectiveness of wellbeing support were found to vary with one officer telling the inquiry that there was “little recognition of how the role of managing sex offenders could affect their personal lives and relationships, including with their children”. 

The report spoke of “multiple sources of growing additional work” including polygraph testing and the need to implement ESafe. It also flagged that often Sexual Harm Prevention Orders are imposed by courts without consulting with the police and that staff consulted felt that the number of conditions that need to be managed was often “unmanageable”. 

Chief Insp Russell said: “I think we would always say that when probation are preparing call reports or making sentencing recommendations that they do consult with relevant agencies. I'm not sure whether the issue is that sentencers are just doing it off their own bat or whether probation are recommending [certain things]. But they clearly do need to consult with the police.” 

The other recommendation that was made for the police within the report is that all MAPPA nominals should be allocated a trained Police Offender Manager. This was first recommended in 2015 and while it has been implemented for all sex offenders, it has not been done for all violent offenders. 

Chief Insp Russell told Police Oracle he didn’t think this was a question of workloads, but rather a lack of understanding regarding the uses of MAPPA outside of specialist teams. 

An Effective Practice guide has also been published with the report.

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