About Risk Assessment & Risk Management
The Assessment Process
How is the risk posed by a sexual offender assessed?
When a person is convicted of a relevant sexual offence, an initial risk assessment is undertaken. This assessment, called Risk Matrix 2000, using factual information about the offender’s past history is undertaken by the PPANI Links Team. The PPANI Links Team is a team of police officers who are trained to undertake this assessment of the risk the offender presents.
When the Risk Matrix assessment is completed it identifies what category of risk the offender presents based on their past history. Following this initial assessment offenders are then referred into the mutli agency LAPPP process for further assessment.
The LAPPP decides which of the referred cases will require the risk to be managed on a multi agency basis within the PPANI arrangements . This decision is based on all available information about the offender’s history and current circumstances, the offending behaviour, environmental and personality factors.
What are the Categories of Risk?
The risk posed by a sex offender is assigned a Category when all the relevant historical and current information is known. This risk assessment is reviewed regularly and the category of risk may change as a result of changes in the circumstances in the offender’s life.
Risk Assessment is an ongoing dynamic process as it continually takes account of any significant changes in the offender’s life, environment and circumstances. When a category of Risk is assigned at a LAPPP meeting, this is continually reviewed and can be either lowered or increased depending on what changes, if any, have taken place in the offender’s life since the last LAPPP meeting. If significant serious information becomes known to the DRM regarding the offender before a planned LAPPP meeting, the DRM can request a review of the category of Risk and the Risk Management Plan and a LAPPP meeting would be arranged sooner.
The category relates to the level of risk an offender poses and how this risk is to be managed and not to the offender.
The categories of risk are:
“Where previous offending and/or current behaviour and/or current circumstances present little evidence that the offender could cause serious harm .”
Cases assessed at this level will be referred back to the agency with lead responsibility for the management of any identified risks, such as Probation Board in the case of an offender released on licence for example, or the Community Forensic Mental Health Team, if the person has a mental health problem. If there are any new concerns about increasing risk, the case can be referred back for review at a LAPPP.
“Someone, where previous offending and/or current behaviour and/or current circumstances, present clear and identifiable evidence, that the offender could cause serious harm through carrying out a contact sexual or violent offence.”
Cases assessed as posing a risk at this level will be subject to a multi-agency risk management plan overseen by an appointed Designated Risk Manager (DRM). These offenders are generally managed by the police Public Protection Units (PPU) or by Probation if they are under statutory supervision, or the Community Forensic Mental Health Team if the offender is subject to a hospital order.
The relevant LAPPP will review each case every three months or earlier if there is concern about increased risk.
“Where previous offending, and/or current behaviour and/or current circumstances present clear and identifiable evidence that the offender is highly likely to cause serious harm through carrying out a contact sexual or violent offence.”
Cases assessed as posing a risk at this level will be subject to a multi-agency risk management plan overseen by the Designated Risk Manager (DRM) who is appointed by the LAPPP. These cases are usually closely managed by a team of experienced police, probation and social services staff working together in a Public Protection Team(PPT) based at PSNI Seapark Complex in Carrickfergus.
All offenders assessed as posing a risk at his level are reviewed on a monthly basis or more frequently if the seriousness of perceived risk is increased.
Sexual offenders are assessed by the Designated Risk Manager on every contact and annually using a dynamic assessment tool called the ‘Stable and Acute 2007’ (SA07). All Designated Risk Managers are trained and accredited to use this assessment tool.
How is risk managed?
Each sex offender who is within the PPANI, has a Designated Risk Manager (DRM), who is responsible for the management of the risk posed by that offender. The DRM works with the offender to identify what are the risks they pose and how these risks are best managed. The DRM undertakes the assessment of the risked posed by the offender and devises, with the advice and guidance of the LAPPP meeting, a Risk Management Plan.
The Risk Management Plan identifies each perceived risk factor the offender poses and what is the appropriate means of managing that risk factor. Effective risk management is dependent upon the full co-operation of the offender in working alongside the DRM in managing the risk they pose.
The Risk Management Plan can include:
- Directing where an offender resides
- Directing who the offender cannot have contact with
- Directing what treatment programmes the offender attends to address their offending behaviour
- Informing relevant persons about the risk posed by the offender
The Risk Management Plan is continually reviewed, amended and extended in accordance with any significant changes in the offender’s life.
The DRM can also have as part of the Risk Management Plan, court orders which assist in managing the risk posed by the offender. These court orders are discussed below.
Making the Decision to Disclose Information
Agencies involved in the Public Protection Arrangements are responsible for maintaining confidentiality in respect of all cases. Occasionally that duty to maintain confidentiality will be over ridden where there is a greater need to protect the public or any individual or section of the community. This situation may arise when intelligence or information indicates that an individual could cause serious harm to another person.
Any decision to disclose information has a wide ranging implications. Consequently a full discussion will usually take place at a regular LAPPP meeting or at an extraordinary LAPPP meeting.
Serious Case Reviews
The majority of offenders who have been convicted of sexual offences and who are within the PPANI cooperate with their DRM and abide with their Risk Management Plan to reduce their likelihood of reoffending.
However, there will always be a small number of offenders, who will choose not to cooperate with their Risk Management Plan and reoffend. PPANI does not eliminate risk but provides the agencies with the structures to manage the risk posed.
When a sex offender chooses to re-offend, this is taken seriously by the PPANI SMB. As soon as this becomes known to the SMB, they appoint an Independent Chair to undertake a Serious Case Review of the circumstances of the case. The Independent Chair establishes a Serious Case Review Panel comprising of a representative of all the relevant agencies involved with the offender and a review of the case is undertaken. The Independent Chair provides a report to the SMB after having considered the reports from all the relevant agencies and forwards this with recommendations to the SMB for action. Recommendations highlighting any deficits or areas for improvement within the PPANI, which the case may have identified, are immediately implemented by the agencies through the SMB.
The Lay Advisors are informed at all stages of the Serious Case Review and as members of the SMB have access to the Independent Chair report and recommendations
Sex Offenders Notification
The current legislation regarding notification requirements for persons convicted, cautioned etc of certain sexual offences can be found in Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, with the relevant offences as listed in Schedule 3 of the Act. Qualifying offenders must notify certain personal details to the police in person at a prescribed police station, this notification must be repeated every 12 months, or when any notified details change and the period of notification is determined depending on the sentence imposed by the court. Such offenders must also notify police with details if they are planning to leave the United Kingdom.
Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 also introduced new civil preventative orders that can be granted by courts:
- Notification Orders (which causes offenders convicted outside the UK of relevant offences to become notifiable in UK)
- Foreign Travel Orders (prohibits those convicted of sexual offences against children from travelling overseas)
- Risk of Sexual Harm Orders “RoSHO” (order contains prohibitions restricting the activities of those involved in grooming children for sexual activity NB a previous conviction is not a prerequisite)
- Sexual Offences Prevention Orders “SOPO” (order contains prohibitions restricting the activities of those who are a risk of causing serious sexual harm to the public).
The prohibitions for SOPO and RoSHO may include preventing the person from contact with potential victims, entering certain risky areas, or being out during certain risky times (like a curfew) but these must be necessary and justifiable given the current risks.
Breaches of notification or any of the orders are arrestable offences and if convicted the punishment is the same for all i.e. on summary conviction (in a Magistrates’ Court) will be liable to a term of imprisonment of up to six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both; an offender convicted on indictment (in a Crown Court) will be liable to a term of imprisonment of up to five years.