Emma Davies, Head of the Prison Law department at Hine Solicitors together with Lucy Batten of the department, explain what MAPPA is and the potential impact it may have on inmates…
The mysterious MAPPA …
MAPPA applies to a large number of inmates in England and Wales and you may therefore have previously heard the term or seen it referred to in reports compiled by the Probation or Prison service. However, a large proportion of such inmates are unaware what this term actually means and how it affects them. As MAPPA will apply to a number of released prisoners on licence conditions we have explored the meaning behind the mysterious letters and explained how it may affect you.
What is MAPPA?
MAPPA stands for, Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements. It is important for inmates to be aware that MAPPA is not an organisation, but rather is a name given to arrangements made by “responsible authorities” in England and Wales. It is coordinated and supported by the Public Protection Unit and the ‘responsible authorities’ of MAPPA include the Police, Prison Service and Probation Service.
What are the ‘Arrangements’ under MAPPA?
The arrangements under MAPPA are governed by the Criminal Justice Act 2003. This legislation requires a 3 stage process to be implemented to enable management of offenders who are considered high risk.
Firstly, relevant offenders will be identified by the Police, Prison or Probation in accordance with their allocated regional areas.
Secondly, once an inmate has been identified by the Police, Prison and/or the Probation Service as being suitable for the MAPPA arrangements they will be allocated a category. These are numbered are determined as follows:-
Category 1: Will be allocated to all registered Sex Offenders.
Category 2: Will be allocated to all offenders who have received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more in prison for a violent or ‘other’ sexual offence and who will remain under Probation supervision following their release from custody.
Category 3: Will be the category allocated to anyone else who is assessed as posing a “risk of serious harm to the public” and whose risk it is felt would be better managed in a multi-agency setting.
An offender cannot be allocated more than one category. If an inmate has committed more than one offence they will default to the lowest number category. For example if an offender has been convicted of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm and has also committed a sexual assault, they would be classified as a Category 1 offender rather than a Category 2 offender for the duration of the time they were subject to Sex Offender Registration. If following the completion of their registration period they were still subject to licence, then they would become a Category 2 offender.
The third and final process required is for the offender to be subject to a formal risk assessment. After this has been undertaken the offender will be allocated to a tier level which will determine how the responsible authorities will manage him. The tiers are organised into the following 3 different management levels:-
Level One – normal inter-agency management of the offender in the community by one agency, with some liaison.
Level Two – Multi Agency Public Protection meetings (MAPPs) will be held where the offender’s management will be discussed between various parties involved in their case.
Level Three is essentially the same as Level Two, except that senior management representatives will be in attendance and greater resources are expected to be used in the management of the offender.
As may be apparent, Level 3 is the highest level of management which is allocated to offenders who have been assessed as presenting the most serious risk of harm.
How does MAPPA affect offenders?
Following allocation to a category under the MAPPA arrangements and determination of the level of management required for the particular offender, a management plan will be produced for each person based upon an assessment of their risk. These management plans are frequently compiled before an inmate’s release into the community and may often have an effect upon licence conditions that are imposed suggesting, for example, that an inmate must reside at an Approved Premises upon release.
Other examples of the licence conditions that may be imposed following consideration of a MAPPA management plan may include:
Conditions restricting contact with children;
Conditions imposing a zone in a town/city that must not be entered;
A Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) to prevent the offender doing certain activities, such as not entering a town where a victim resides, not to have unsupervised contact with children or to use the internet;
A duty to report to an Offender Manager every week to engage in offending reduction work;
In some very extreme cases there may be covert monitoring of offenders to protect the public;
A disclosure of information to a member of the public for their protection.
It is therefore important for inmates to be aware of what MAPPA is and how it may apply to them and impact not only upon potential licence conditions, but also to be aware that MAPPA may still apply following completion of any licence period with monitoring of those individuals who have been allocated as category 3 offenders.
Positives and Negatives of MAPPA
MAPPA is designed to manage the risk of offenders so that such risk can be managed in the community. It is therefore an important tool that can be utilised to an inmates’ advantage. For example as the MAPPA provisions provide an opportunity to manage offenders’ risk in the community, any subsequent arrangements that may be put in place as a result of MAPPA meetings might support an argument that an inmate should be released due the additional provisions/support that MAPPA has provided.
However, there have been concerns that the provisions explained above are not always applied in a uniform fashion which means that some offenders are subject to more onerous requirements than others who may present a similar level of risk. Also it is not a transparent process and an offender does not always know what has been said, why he has been allocated in a certain category or why he has been assessed as presenting a certain level of risk.
MAPPA and Sarah’s Law
You may have heard or read about ‘Sarah’s Law’ and the campaign to publicise information identifying convicted child sex offenders. MAPPA is also relevant in this respect as it is under a legal obligation to consider disclosing an inmate’s convictions for sexual offences to those who are considered to need to know – for example to employers, girlfriends, friends or family members, schools or charitable organisations where a child could potentially be deemed to be at risk. It is important to note that this disclosure could still take place after a Licence has expired and this would be for inmates who have been allocated as Category 1 or 3 offenders.
Can a Prison Lawyer assist you with a MAPPA query?
Most Prison Law assistance is provided under the provisions of a legal aid contract. Such legal aid contracts do cover matters such as licence conditions and therefore, if you are concerned as to how MAPPA may affect your licence conditions, feel that you are not categorised correctly or feel that your licence MAPPA risk assessment may not have been carried out correctly, you should contact a Prison Law solicitor who can make relevant representations on your behalf to one of the ‘responsible authorities’. Furthermore, if you are unsure as to what your MAPPA means for you or are concerned as to the results of your current risk scores, a Prison Law solicitor may be able to provide you with advice and assistance in relation to these issues as well.
If you need any help or advice with any prison law issues please contact Emma Davies at Hine Solicitors.