PPANI is the Public Protection Arrangements in Northern Ireland which were introduced in October 2008.
Introduction to PPANI
What is PPANI?
PPANI is an acronym for the public protection arrangements in Northern Ireland, which were introduced in October 2008 to make more effective the work the police, probation and others do to manage the risks posed by certain sexual and violent offenders when they are released from prison into the community. PPANI is not a statutory body in itself but a structure that enables agencies to undertake their statutory duties and coordinate their functions to enhance public protection.
Since 2001, there have been similar multi agency arrangements in place in Northern Ireland, known as multi agency sex offender risk assessment and management (MASRAM). These were voluntary arrangements, which brought together police, probation, prisons, housing and social services. In October 2008, the arrangements were provided for in law, which means that specified agencies now have a legal duty to cooperate and share information to help assess and manage risk.
What agencies are involved?
Article 50 of the Criminal Justice (N.I.) Order 2008, specifies the agencies which have a duty to co-operate to ensure effective assessment and management of the risks posed by certain sexual and violent offenders.
These agencies are all listed below.
The agencies are:
• Police Service of Northern Ireland
• Probation Board for Northern Ireland
• Northern Ireland Prison Service
• Health and Social Services Boards and Trusts
• Northern Ireland Housing Executive
• Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety
• Youth Justice Agency
• Department of Education
• Department of Employment and Learning
• Department for Social Development
• Education and Library Boards
How do these agencies contribute to public protection?
Police Service of Northern Ireland
Operationally the PSNI adminster the arrangements through the PPANI Links team who manage the referrals into PPANI and co-ordinate the LAPPP meetings. PSNI also undertake the Designated Risk Manager role with all categories of PPANI offenders. PSNI jointly manage the Public Protection Team with PBNI. PSNI are also involved in the delivery of training to multi-agency staff involved in the PPANI process.
Probation Board for Northern Ireland
Operationally PBNI chair and manage the multi-agency LAPPP meetings. PBNI staff undertake the Designated Risk Manager role with all categories of PPANI offenders. PBNI jointly manage the Public Protection Team with PSNI. PBNI provide treatment programmes for PPANI offenders who are also subject to Probation supervision. PBNI are also involved in the delivery of training to multi-agency staff involved in PPANI process.
Northern Ireland Prison Service
The NIPS provides important information through regular monitoring of the behaviour of offenders in custody, which is vital to the risk assessment and management process. NIPS also undertake the Designated Risk Manager role for those prisoners who will be subject to PPANI on release from prison.
Northern Ireland Housing Executive
The co-operation of both social and private housing providers is essential in the delivery of individual risk management plans and controlled information exchange is therefore vital. Given the importance of accommodation in the assessment and management of risk, NIHE representatives make an important contribution to the public protection arrangements.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to children
The NSPCC representation ensures there is an independent child protection viewpoint. The NSPCC representative on the SMB chairs the Victims Advisory Sub Group.
Department Of Health, Social Services and Public Safety
Operationally all 5 Health and Social Care Trusts have an identified Principal Social Worker who has responsibilty to attend LAPPP meetings in their Trust area and ensure any child and vulnreable adult protection issues are addressed. They also attend pre release LAPPP meetings which take place in the prisons. The Principal Officers are involved in all LAPPP meetings, attend each of SMB subgroups as well as involved in the delivery of PPANI training within their Trust areas. Trust Principal Officers maintain regular contact with their Health colleagues within their Trusts. If a PPANI offender has significant health or social care needs, health personnel will jointly undertake the DRM role with PSNI or PBNI colleagues.
The Principal Officer for each Trust is:
Youth Justice Agency
The YJA cooperates with other agencies for those young persons under 18 years of age whose risks to the community, in exceptional cases, are to be addressed within the public protection arrangements.
Department of Education/Education and Library Boards
The Department of Education cooperates with other relevant agencies and provides advices on policy, guidance and legislative developments, which relate specifically to protecting children and vulnerable adults.
Department of Employment and Learning
The sharing of information held by the Department can assist the police in locating offenders who fail to comply with risk management plans.
Department for Social Development
The Department can contribute to the public protection agenda by sharing information about social security benefit and child maintenance details, which can assist the police in locating offenders who fail to comply with risk management plans.
DVD excerpt: PPANI Overview
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does public disclosure happen in Northern Ireland?
Routine public disclosure of information about offenders is unlawful under current Data Protection legislation. It is only undertaken when it is the combined view of the agencies that evidence suggests there is a need to disclose an offender’s identity in order to protect the public.
However, agencies can disclose information about offenders in a controlled way when, on the basis of evidence and , as part of the risk management process, it is considered necessary to provide better protection to an individual, a community or the public in general. An example of this would be where an offender has applied for employment and agrees their prospective employer should be informed of their offences or another example is if an offender begins a relationship with a new partner, the new partner will be made aware of the risk posed by the offender.
2. Can sexual and violent offenders be rehabilitated?
No one can ever be in a position to state as a fact that an offender is rehabilitated; however the majority of sex offenders do not commit further sexual offences. The offender’s individual risk management plan will identify those areas of an offender’s life which require addressing through the wide variety of interventions which could include group work programmes, individual treatment and counselling. Close supervision and monitoring of the offender’s engagement with the agencies and addressing the risks they pose assists in reducing the likelihood of reoffending.
Research does evidence those offenders who engage fully in assessment and treatment are less likely to reoffend than those who do not engage. Whether someone chooses to engage constructively with any intervention is entirely an individual decision. For those who do not engage, their risk may remain unchanged and their risk management plan will take account of their lack of engagement in treatment.
3. What happens if a convicted sexual or violent offender refuses to take part in the treatment / intervention programmes?
The Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 which introduced indeterminate or extended public protection sentences for offenders convicted of serious or specified violent or sexual offences, already provides for rigorous risk assessment prior to consideration of release. The legislation requires that independent Parole Commissioners must, before directing an offender’s release from custody, be satisfied that the offender no longer poses a significant risk of serious harm to the public.
Participation in offending behaviour programmes or engagement with other rehabilitative services, and the degree to which this has minimised the risk to the public, are important considerations in the Parole Commissioners’ assessment of an offender’s suitability for release on licence.
The legislation also introduced determinate custodial sentences which can be imposed for other sexual and violent offences. Offenders are released on the completion of the custodial period of their sentence and are subject to post-release community supervision, remaining subject to recall to custody if they fail to satisfy licence conditions which are aimed at minimising their risk of reoffending.
4. Do all offenders have to be released at the end of their sentence
Offenders who have reached the end of their custodial sentence must be released.
Those sex and violent offenders who meet the criteria for risk assessment under the public protection arrangements will be assessed to determine if the risk they pose requires multi-agency management. At least 3 months prior to their release from custody, a Local Area Public Protection Panel (LAPPP) meeting is held to assess the risk posed and to agree a risk management plan which begins as soon as the offender is released from custody.
5. What does a risk management plan look like
A risk management plan details all the risk management measures available to the agencies in managing the risk posed by an offender. The plan is drawn up by the agencies through the Local Area Public Protection Panel (LAPPP) which is held on a regular basis to assess each case. The risk management plan focuses on the specific risk the offender poses and identifies treatment and supervision options to manage the risk.
The plan can include conditions of release or other court orders such as Probation Orders or Licence conditions. If necessary to protect the public, an application can be made to the courts for a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO), which places prohibitions on what an offender can do. An example of prohibitions are that the offender cannot consume alcohol or drugs, enter into a new relationship without their Designated Risk Manager being informed, cannot be in the company of children or cannot have access to a vehicle. The SOPO is enforced by the police and the sentencing framework for a breach of this order provides for a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
The risk management plan is individual to each offender and is supervised by the Designated Risk Manager from the agency who has overall responsibility for the management of the offender. The risk management plan is reviewed regularly by the LAPPP.
6. Does Treatment work
The form of treatment and other interventions are individualised to address the risks posed by each offender. Some offenders are required to seek treatment for alcohol or drug addictions as these behaviours present a significant risk that the offender might reoffend. Violent offenders may be required to attend anger management treatment.
The core programme for sexual offenders, the accredited Community Sex Offender Group work Programme (CSOGP) is delivered by specialist Probation Officers. These specialist Probation Officers also deliver programmes for sexual offenders who have committed internet offences, for those who have learning difficulties and young adults who have sexually offended.
Evaluation of the CSOGP, incorporating Northern Ireland statistics, found that, in a three year period, treated offenders were up to three times less likely to be reconvicted of a sexual offence than a matched control group. The CSOGP was also found to be effective in reducing likelihood of future violent offences, demonstrating that the programme achieves its aims in promoting pro-social behaviour and addressing the antisocial lifestyle of some offenders.
7. How many offenders are subject to the public protection arrangements in N.Ireland
The monthly statistics of offenders who are subject to PPANI are available on the PPANI website.
8. As a victim how am I kept informed about the person who offended against me
The Probation Board for N.Ireland and the N.Ireland Prison Service have a Victim Information Scheme which any victim can register with. This scheme registers your interest as a victim to be kept informed of any relevant information relating to the person who offended against you.
You can download the Victim Information Scheme leaflet from the PPANI website and further information regarding this scheme is available through the PBNI and NIPS websites.
9. How can victims help with risk management?
If you have registered with the PBNI or NIPS Victim Information Scheme, you will be contacted by one of these agencies to keep you informed of any significant information regarding the person who offended against you. You can also inform these agencies of any concerns you have regarding this offender. These concerns, if appropriate, can be used to assist the LAPPP in devising the offender’s risk management plan. At each LAPPP meeting, victim issues are a key aspect of the discussion and all relevant information is considered in assisting in the risk assessment and management of offenders.
10. How much information am I entitled to as a victim about the person who offended against me
The PBNI and NIPS Victim Information Scheme outlines the type of information you are entitled to but all information shared is restricted by Data Protection.
11. What is the sex offender register?
When a person is convicted for certain sexual or violent offences and receive a sentence of 6 months or more, are subject to notification, which means they are legally required to notify the police of their personal circumstances. This will include taking a photograph of the offender, registering any distinctive marks such as tattoos, address and employment details. The offender is required to notify the police of any change to their personal circumstances and must appear at police station once a year to renew their notification details. This has become known as the sex offender register.
12. Who does it apply to?
It applies to any offender who has been convicted of a relevant sexual offence and who has received a sentence of more than 6 months
13. Who manages the offenders?
If an offender has received a Probation Order or is subject to Licence conditions, they are managed by a Probation Officer. To read more about what being on Probation means, visit www.pbni.org.uk
If an offender is not subject to a Probation Order, they are managed by PSNI or for a small number of offenders who have mental health or other health care specific needs they can be jointly managed by PSNI and a relevant Trust professional such as social worker with the Community Forensic Mental Health Team.
The public protection arrangements in N.Ireland enable all the agencies involved in public protection to work together in order to manage the risk posed by offenders.
14. What restrictions are placed on them?
Each offender is individually assessed and managed; the risk management plan is devised on the specific risk the offender poses so the restrictions placed on them are individual to the offender. However examples of restrictions are:
- Place of residence
- Access to children and / or vulnerable adults
- Access to alcohol and / or drugs
- Curfew restrictions
15. Where are they allowed to live?
Unless the court has imposed restrictions as to where the offender can live, they can live where they chose to. However, their DRM (Designated Risk Manager) will check the accommodation the offender is requesting to live in and if the DRM deems there is an increased risk the offender will be required to seek other accommodation.
Most offenders want to remain offence free and will work with their DRM in identifying suitable accommodation in the community. As part of this, hostel accommodation is used to accommodate the offender whilst suitable accommodation is found.
Hostels play an important part in assessing how an offender is going to behave in the community whilst being supervised and subject to often very strict conditions such as regular searches of their room, drug and alcohol testing and curfews. If an offender is not adhering to the hostel conditions, as part of their court order/s, they will be taken back to court for breaching these conditions.
The hostels are staffed by specially trained professionals who provide ongoing assessment and treatment for offenders to assist them in not reoffending. Whilst in a hostel, offenders address the reasons why they offended and research informs us that offenders who receive treatment and support are less likely to reoffend. Hostels also provide an important facility to assist the offender in planning where they are going to live in the community as opposed to having offenders moving through a number of temporary accommodations.
16. Can they go back to their home area?
If the court has not imposed restrictions on the offender’s place of residence, then they can return to their home area. However, if the victim of their offending has registered with the PBNI Victim Information Scheme see www.pbni.org.uk or with N.Ireland Prisoner Release Victim Information Scheme http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/index/information-and-services/crime-justice-and-the-law/prison-and-probation/prisoner-release-victim-information-scheme.htm their views or concerns relating to the offender’s place of residence will be considered at the LAPPP meeting.
17. How are they monitored?
When an offender is subject to notification after being convicted of a sexual or violent offence, an assessment of the risk they pose is undertaken by the multiagency LAPPP. On the basis of this assessment a risk management plan (RMP) is agreed and the designated risk manager (DRM) is assigned to oversee this RMP. In between the LAPPP meetings the DRM will undertake monitoring visits with the offender to assess how they are adhering to the RMP. These visits are sometimes unannounced. The DRM will also make contact with any other relevant person who is involved with the offender’s risk management plan such as social services, counselling services, PSNI, GP, and Psychiatrist, addiction services or housing providers.
The DRM will then provide to the next LAPPP meeting an overview of how the offender is engaging with the risk management plan and on the basis of this
the risk management plan could be adjusted, such as increase the external restrictions or remain the same.
18. Who monitors them?
The offender is monitored by the Designated Risk Manager who could be either from PSNI, Probation or from one of the Health Trusts.
19. Is there a time limit on the register?
Yes offenders are subject to notification for specific periods of time depending on the sentence they receive from court.
20. What sort of offence is covered?
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 and Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) 2008 included
- assault by penetration,
- causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent, administering a substance with intent to commit a sexual offence
- Mentally disordered victim related offences
Child victim offences
21. Who are these people? Can I find out if there is a sex offender living in my area?
Sex offenders come from a variety of backgrounds, are both male and female, and all age ranges. Currently in N.Ireland there is no public disclosure scheme but as part of an offender’s risk management plan, the DRM will inform those, who need to know, of the offender’s risk. An example of this could be informing a new partner, employer, housing provider or any professional who is having regular contact with the offender.
22. How can I as a victim make my concerns known?
The Probation Board for N. Ireland www.pbni.org.uk and the N. Ireland Prison Service have a Victim Information Scheme http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/index/information-and-services/crime-justice-and-the-law/prison-and-probation/prisoner-release-victim-information-scheme.htm where victims can register their wish to be kept informed. Any concerns raised by victims will be discussed at the LAPPP meeting and considered when the offender’s risk management plan is being agreed.
23. How safe are these offenders in the community?
The public protection arrangements provide the agencies with a structure to assist in the management of offenders to reduce likelihood of re offending. By the nature of some offenders they will pose a risk to the public and it is this risk which is managed by the agencies within the powers and resources they have available. Most offenders will not reoffend and work with the agencies to not commit further offences.
24. Do the arrangements work to keep me safe?
The core function of the public protection arrangements is to keep the public safe. The arrangements cannot eliminate risk but enable the agencies to work together to assess and manage the risk posed by individual offenders. Each of the agencies involved in the arrangements have given significant resources to ensuring the effectiveness in working together to protect the public.