MAPPA stands for “Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements”. Briefly these are arrangements set up where the Police, Probation and Prison Services assess and manage the risk posed by sexual and violent offenders. MAPPA has its statutory basis in Sections 325 to 327 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
Other organisations are required to work within MAPPA. These include local authority social services, local housing authorities, certain registered social landlords, Jobcentre Plus, electronic monitoring providers, NHS Trusts, Youth Offending Teams and Home Office Immigration Enforcement.
Most of, if not all sexual offenders are subject to restrictions imposed with their sentence. If they break those restrictions, they can be sent back to prison.
The following are the kinds of orders commonly made against sexual offenders: -
A Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) is intended to protect the public from offenders convicted of a sexual or violent offence who pose a risk of sexual harm to the public. It places restrictions on the behavior of the offender, i.e. where they can go. The minimum duration for a full order is five years.
A Notification Order requires sexual offenders who have been convicted overseas to register with the police, in order to protect the public in the UK from the risks that they pose.
A Sexual Risk Order (SRO) is made in relation to a person without a conviction for a sexual or violent offence (or any other offence), but who poses a risk of sexual harm. It may prohibit the person from doing anything described in it, including travel overseas. A SRO can last for a minimum of two years.
Prior to the 21st April 2010, sexual offenders could be subject to restrictions for the remainder of their natural lives. However, after the UK Supreme Court decision in R (on the application of F and Angus Aubrey Thompson) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 17, offenders subject to indefinite notification were able to seek a review.
Individuals subject to indefinite notification are only become eligible to seek a review once they have been subject to indefinite notification requirements for a period of at least 15 years for adults and 8 years for juveniles.
MAPPA works by identifying offenders, and then gathering and sharing information about them across relevant agencies. Each offender has a risk management plan to protect the public.
If the system fails for whatever reason, then there is an investigation by the local MAPPA Strategic Management Board. So, a Mandatory Serious Case Review will be prepared when an offender being managed (or who has just been managed) at MAPPA Level 2 or 3 commits a serious offence. There will also be other cases when the MAPPA Strategic Management Board decides that a Discretionary Serious Case Review should be prepared.
Plainly the risk posed by a sexual offender can never be eliminated, but it can be managed.
There are three levels of offenders: -
· Category 1 – Registered sexual offenders
· Category 2 – Violent Offenders
· Category 3 – Other Dangerous Offenders (who do not qualify under 1 or 2 above, but who pose a risk of serious harm.
These offenders are managed according to three different levels of management and risk: -
· Level 1 – relatively low-level risk - Ordinary Agency Management – most offenders – there are no formal meetings to discuss their case.
· Level 2 – medium risk - Active Multi-Agency Management – this means that several agencies will be actively involved with them, and will meet to discuss their cases regularly.
· Level 3 – the highest risk - Active Multi-Agency Management – again several agencies are actively involved in these cases, but the involvement of senior staff from those agencies is required to authorise the use of additional resources, such as for specialised accommodation.
On the 26th October 2017, the government and local police forces published their annual report on their arrangements. These include statistics on the number of offenders that they manage and how the system is working.
Here are some of the key statistics for England and Wales: -
· On 31 March 2017 there were 76,794 MAPPA-eligible offenders. Of these, 72% were Category 1 27.6% were Category 2 and less than 0.5% were Category 3 offenders. There are just under 10,000 in the London Metropolitan area. Avon and Somerset had just under 2000.
· 98% of cases were managed at Level 1
· There were 108 Category 1 offenders per 100,000 of the population. Ten years ago, it was 64 per 100,000.
· The number of Category 1 offenders who were cautioned or convicted for breaches of their notification requirements was 1,739 in 2016/17.
· 697 Level 2 and Level 3 offenders were returned to custody for a breach of their licence conditions in 2016/17.
· The number of MAPPA-eligible offenders charged with Serious Further Offences in 2016/17 was 217.
· The number of MAPPA eligible offenders is increasing year on year. In 2008/2009, the number was just under 45,000.
So, what happens to these men and women who live under the shadow of MAPPA?
The authorities accept that sexual abuse provokes powerful reactions within the community. Re-settlement of offenders into the local community is nothing less than a daunting prospect, and it requires consideration of the needs of the victim, the community and the risks and needs of the sexual offender.
Nonetheless research shows that social isolation and emotional loneliness are key factors in the risk of re-offending.
One organisation that works to meet this challenge is Circles UK whose ethos and vision is to seek greater public protection by working towards a substantial reduction in sexual offending. It does this by supporting local providers in the delivery of interventions that assist socially isolated sexual offenders to reintegrate safely into the local community.
Circles UK recruits, trains and professionally supports appropriate volunteers who are willing to give up their time in order to offer practical support to convicted sexual offenders. It works in partnership with Police, Probation, local Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements and other professionals working in the field of child protection.
MAPPA is a powerful means of protecting the public, which in terms of this country's safeguarding history is relatively recent. It cannot give us guarantees, but then what can safeguarding system can do that?
Malcolm Johnson, Specialist Child Abuse Lawyer