There are more people on MAPPA than there are in prison

Work with Offenders looks at the detail of the new annual report on Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements

Last week the Ministry of Justice and the Office for National Statistics published the annual report on Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements for 2019/20. Although MAPPA has only been in existence since 2003, there are now more people supervised under its arrangements than there are people in prison. On 31 March 2020, there were 85,709 offenders under MAPPA management in the community in England and Wales compared to 78,977 people in prison last Friday (30 October).

What is MAPPA?

First established in 2003, Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) are a set of statutory arrangements to assess and manage the risk posed by certain sexual and violent offenders. MAPPA bring together the Police, Probation and Prison Services into what is known as the MAPPA Responsible Authority for each MAPPA Area (using police force boundaries) to manage serious (mainly sexual and violent) offenders to minimise the risk they pose to the public.

A number of other agencies are under a duty to co-operate with the Responsible Authority. These include: Children’s Services, Adult Social Services, Health Trusts and Authorities, Youth Offending Teams, Home Office Immigration Enforcement, local housing authorities and certain registered social landlords, Jobcentre Plus, and electronic monitoring providers.

Offenders eligible for MAPPA are identified and information is gathered and shared about them across relevant agencies. The nature and level of the risk of harm they pose is assessed and a coordinated risk management plan is implemented to protect the public.

The period an offender remains a MAPPA offender varies significantly. Some will be MAPPA offenders for life and some for less than 6 months. The period will be dependent upon the offence committed and the sentence imposed.

There are three broad categories of offenders under MAPPA: Category 1 - Registered sexual offenders (RSO), Category 2 - Violent offenders and Category 3 - Other Dangerous Offenders. There are also three management levels which reflect the level of multi-agency co-operation required to implement the individual offender’s risk management plan effectively. Those offenders supervised on Level 1 are typically supervised by the police or probation service alone although these agencies will share information about them. The risk management plans for Level 2 offenders require the active involvement of several agencies via regular multi-agency public protection meetings which oversee the implementation of a coordinated risk management plan. For offenders managed at Level 3, the active involvement of several agencies is required; however, the risks presented by offenders managed at this level are such that senior staff from the agencies involved are required to authorise the use of additional resources, such as specialised accommodation.

Latest figures

Of 85,709 offenders under MAPPA management on 31 March this year, 62,435 (72.8%) were Category 1 offenders (Registered Sexual Offenders), 22,943 (26.8%) were Category 2 offenders (mainly violent offenders) and 331 (0.4%) were Category 3 offenders (other dangerous offenders). These proportions have been consistent over the last six years.

The vast majority (84,349 or 98.4%) of these offenders were under Level 1 management, 1,202 (1.4%) were under Level 2 management, and 158 (0.2%) were under Level 3 management. These proportions have also been consistent over the last six years.

It is a frankly staggering fact that there were 119 Registered Sexual Offenders per 100,000 of the population aged 10 and over on 31 March 2020. This is an increase from 116 on 31 March 2019 and continues a trend of successive annual increases. Put in another way, one in every 840 adults in the country is a registered sex offender.

Another figure of interest is that the number of Level 2 and 3 offenders returned to custody for breaching licence conditions has been growing again over the last two years. 723 offenders managed at Level 2 and Level 3 were returned to custody last year, almost one in five (18%) of the total number of offenders managed at these MAPPA levels.

Conclusion

This year’s annual report shows that the total MAPPA population continues to grow, driven (mainly) by increases in the number of registered sex offenders as well as increases in the number of violent offenders. The increase is driven by sentencing trends, increases in average custodial sentence length and the requirement for many sexual offenders to register for long periods of time.