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Everything you need to know about MAPPA

On 31 March 2022, the number of offenders subject to the MAPPA process was 89,438. This number was up by 3% on the previous year and up by 61% since 2012. Historically, these increases have been driven mainly by increases in the number of people convicted of sexual offences and who are subject to notification requirements.

What is MAPPA?

MAPPA stands for Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements. It is the process through which the police, probation service and prison service work together with other relevant agencies in order to manage the risks posed by violent and sexual offenders living in the community. MAPPA is not a statutory organisation in itself; however, it is a mechanism where agencies can better use their statutory responsibilities to protect members of the public in a coordinated, multi-agency way.

The Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000, in conjunction with the Criminal Justice Act 2003, placed a duty on the police, probation service and prison service to make arrangements for the identification, risk assessment and management of people with convictions for violent or sexual offences in order for them to be managed as safely as is possible in the community. 

The Violent and Sexual Offenders Register was also developed to support MAPPA. Other agencies also have a duty to cooperate with MAPPA, including:

  • Local Authority Social Care Services.
  • Youth Offending Teams.
  • Local Housing Authorities.
  • UK Visas and Immigration.
  • Registered Social Landlords who accommodate MAPPA offenders.
  • Jobcentre Plus.
  • Local Education Authorities.
  • Integrated Care Boards, other NHS Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities.
  • Electronic Monitoring Providers.

The sharing of information between partner agencies does not breach the confidentiality of the person involved. 

Man under MAPPA in handcuffs

How is MAPPA used?

The MAPPA system cannot guarantee the protection of the public and can only manage the risks as effectively as possible through the limited powers of each agency involved. This means that all steps that can be taken by the agencies to protect members of the public, should be taken.

Family members and others in close contact with someone who has MAPPA status will not automatically be informed of their MAPPA status or risk; however, it may be decided at a MAPPA meeting that it is in the family’s interest to know. This may be because it is felt that the person subject to MAPPA may pose a direct risk to them or their children and they have the right to have the information needed to be able to make informed choices. Safeguarding is always central in decision-making. 

Often, family members may have to agree to certain conditions, such as where a conviction relates to offences against children, there should be no unsupervised access to children by the individual.

Police or probation officers will consider whether it is necessary to disclose information about an individual to protect the public and safeguard children. This may be:

  • If a MAPPA offender is in a new relationship with a partner who has children or grandchildren. In some cases this may include friends or neighbours who have children.
  • Where others may be at risk, for example in supported accommodation. This may include other service users, but usually it will be staff and managers who are informed.
  • Where members of the public may be at risk – this may be through the offender’s workplace, education or training.

Any disclosure must comply with the law, it must be deemed necessary for public protection, and it must be proportionate. 

If you have concerns about someone you are in a relationship with, they may not necessarily be subject to MAPPA; however, you can request information directly from the police under Clare’s Law.  The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, also known as Clare’s Law, enables the police to disclose information to a victim or potential victim of domestic abuse about their partner’s or ex-partner’s previous abusive or violent offending. You can also read more about Clare’s Law by visiting our knowledge base. 

What is the aim of MAPPA?

The purpose of MAPPA is to help to reduce the risk of re-offending behaviour of people who have committed sexual and violent offences. The purpose is to protect the public, including previous victims, from serious harm. It is vital that the relevant agencies work together effectively as part of this process. As part of this process agencies must:

  • Identify all relevant offenders.
  • Share and collate information effectively in order to complete comprehensive risk assessments.
  • Implement and regularly review robust Risk Management Plans.
  • Use all resources available to protect members of the public from serious harm.

The effective sharing of information between all the agencies involved will result in more effective supervision and better public protection overall. 

Jail cell for MAPPA offenders

Who is eligible for MAPPA?

Offenders are defined in law as eligible for MAPPA management where they have committed specified sexual and violent offences, or have been assessed as presenting a serious risk of harm to the public. 

The responsibility for identifying MAPPA eligible offenders falls to whichever agency has a statutory role in their supervision or care. This could be the police, probation service, prison service, or youth offending services. Each agency has its own internal procedures in place in order for them to be able to identify MAPPA eligible offenders who may be under their supervision or care. 

If a person is made subject to MAPPA, they should be notified of this. They are also entitled to request information regarding what has been discussed in relation to them at the meeting. They will not necessarily be given all of the information discussed, so as to ensure that victims and anyone else’s information is kept confidential. 

What are the categories and levels of MAPPA?

There are three formal MAPPA categories. MAPPA require the responsible authority to assess the offender in order to place them in a level in terms of the risk they pose to the public and previous victims. This will determine how they are managed and the level of intervention they may need in order to reduce their risk of causing harm. Offenders falling within the remit of MAPPA are categorised as follows:

  • Category 1 – offenders subject to notification requirements. These are offenders who have been convicted of a specified sexual offence and/or to whom the notification requirements under Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 apply and who are therefore required to notify the police of their name, address and other personal details, and notify the police of any subsequent changes. The number of Category 1 offenders continues to increase annually, standing at 66,741 on 31 March 2022. This is an increase of 4% on the previous year and 65% higher than in 2012.
  • Category 2 – these are offenders who have been convicted of a specified violent offence and sentenced to imprisonment/detention for at least 12 months, or have been detained under a hospital order. This category also includes a small number of sexual offenders who do not qualify for the notification requirements that apply to Category 1 offenders. The number of Category 2 offenders was 22,304 on 31 March 2022. Annual figures for Category 2 offenders have been relatively stable since 2017/18 but increased steadily before that.
  • Category 3 – these are offenders who do not qualify under Category 1 or 2 but have been assessed as posing a risk of serious harm to the public. The link between the offence they have perpetrated and the risk that they pose means that they require multi-agency management. The total number of offenders managed under Category 3 over the course of a year reached a low of 931 in 2017/18, which was before the MAPPA guidance was updated in 2018. This brought domestic abuse perpetrators into MAPPA under Category 3. This meant that a total of 1,256 offenders were managed under Category 3 between April 2021 and March 2022.

All relevant offenders are risk assessed in order to establish the level of risk of harm they pose to the public. Risk management plans are then designed for each offender to manage the risks that have been identified. MAPPA allows for agencies to assess and manage offenders on a multi-agency basis by working together, sharing information and meeting with each other to ensure that effective plans are put in place.

Under MAPPA, offenders are managed at one of three levels. These levels reflect the level of risk and therefore the level of multi-agency cooperation required to implement the individual offender’s risk management plan effectively. Offenders can be moved up or down the levels in order to reflect changes in the level of risk that they pose and the action required to manage their risk. 

  • Level 1 – this means they will be managed at an ordinary agency management level. This includes information exchange and a risk assessment meeting. These are cases with a low-medium risk of serious harm to others. This will be either for the probation service to manage, usually for people on community orders or who are on licence following their release from prison, or for the police to manage in the cases of registered sex offenders.
  • Level 2 – this means that the offender will be managed at an active multi-agency management level. These are cases with a high or very high risk of harm to others. MAPPA meetings will take place in order to develop a coordinated plan between the police, the probation service and other relevant agencies. At this level it is often called local inter-risk agency management.
  • Level 3 – at this level it is known as Multi-Agency Public Protection Panels, or MAPPPs. This is reserved for those who are deemed to pose the highest risk of causing serious harm or whose management is so problematic that multi-agency cooperation and oversight at a senior level is required with the authority to commit exceptional resources.

Approximately 95% of registered sexual offenders in England and Wales are managed at Category 1 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 (PPUs). 

As part of maintaining a risk management plan, home visits will be completed. The frequency of the home visits will be determined by the category of assessed risk. As a minimum requirement, MAPPA Level 1 cases will be visited once every twelve months, Level 2 cases will be a minimum of every six months and Level 3 cases will be a minimum of every three months. If there is any new information or incident which indicates that a person under MAPPA has an increased risk to the public, this should prompt more frequent visits to take place. People can move between MAPPA levels if assessed to be more or less dangerous over time.

Although risk of harm can be managed by the MAPPA process, it cannot be eliminated.

A management plan is created for each offender who is subject to MAPPA. A management plan is highly specific to each offender and their offending history. Some things that can be included in a management plan include:

Police officers involved with MAPPA

What powers do MAPPA have?

  • Accommodation at an Approved Premises where the offender can be monitored.
  • A set of licence conditions such as not having contact with children, or going within an exclusion zone.
  • An expectation to report to an Offender Manager every week in order to undertake offending reduction counselling and work as part of their licence conditions.
  • A Civil Order such as a Sex Offender Prevention Order (SOPO) in order to prevent the offender from engaging in certain activities. This could be not entering an area where a victim resides or not to have unsupervised contact with children.
  • A disclosure of information being given to a member of the public for their protection.
  • In some extreme cases there may be covert monitoring of an offender in order to protect the public from harm.

A MAPPA serious case review would be needed whereby a MAPPA offender managed at either Level 2 or 3 is charged with committing an offence of murder, manslaughter or rape, or attempting to commit murder or rape. The purpose of the serious case review is to look in detail at how the case was managed by the agencies involved and whether MAPPA guidance and policies were followed appropriately. It is vital that everything is recorded appropriately, all completed actions are documented and meeting minutes are taken accurately.  

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) can be applied to anyone who is convicted or cautioned for a specified sexual or violent offence. This includes offences which are committed overseas. The court needs to be satisfied that the order is necessary for protecting members of the public from sexual harm. SHPOs make individuals subject to notification requirements and prevent them from doing anything set out in the SHPO. This could include things like not travelling abroad. These will be in place for at least 5 years or another specified time which will be set out in the order. 

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About the author

Claire Vain

Claire Vain

Claire graduated with a degree in Social Work in 2010. She is currently enjoying her career moving in a different direction, working as a professional writer and editor. Outside of work Claire loves to travel, spend time with her family and two dogs and she practices yoga at every opportunity!

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