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IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR SENTENCERS

OASys: THE NEW OFFENDER


ASSESSMENT SYSTEM
Supporting the Courts by assessing offenders and providing accurate and timely reports prior to
sentencing is a major part of the National Probation Service's (NPS) business.

OASys – the Offender Assessment System – is a new way of providing such information which, in
turn, should enable courts to ensure offenders are given sentences which work.

ISSUE 3 – SPRING 2003


This briefing note looks at OASys – an important new development in offender assessment
which will improve sentencing advice to the courts and also, after sentence, the supervision of
offenders by the National Probation Service and the Prison Service.

1. INTRODUCTION An OASys assessment will be carried out at the stage that


the pre-sentence report (PSR) is produced, with further
The Offender Assessment System, which is usually assessments conducted periodically throughout the
shortened to OASys (pronounced "oasis"), is a sentence (whether in custody or in the community) and at
standardised process for the assessment of offenders that the end of sentence. If there is no PSR, OASys will be
has been developed jointly by the National Probation completed for the first time at commencement of the
Service (NPS) and the Prison Service. sentence.

It improves the quality of assessment by introducing a 4. WHO WILL BE ASSESSED USING


structured, research-based approach to assessing an OASys?
offender's likelihood of reconviction, the criminogenic
factors associated with offending, and the risk of harm he OASys will be used for the following groups:
or she presents.
ƒ All offenders subject to court ordered pre-sentence
reports
The introduction of OASys in the NPS is well advanced
ƒ All adult offenders subject to community penalties
and the Prison Service is introducing it from April this year.
OASys will replace other assessment tools such as ACE
ƒ Residents of approved probation premises, including
those on bail
and LSI-R.
ƒ Adults serving six months or more in custody
ƒ Young offenders serving one month or more in custody
2. OASys BASICS ƒ Those released from prison on licence

OASys was developed as a set of paper forms that break 5. HOW DOES OASys WORK?
down into a number of different sections. Having
interviewed the offender and read other relevant papers The main part of OASys examines the following factors
the assessor completes the OASys documentation which research shows to predict the likelihood of an
through ticked yes/no, scored or free-text responses to offender being reconvicted:
questions. For example, these may relate to the
ƒ Offending history and current offence
offender's criminal history, drug misuse, attitudes and so
on. The full benefits of OASys will only be realised through
ƒ Social and economic factors: access to
accommodation; education, training and employability;
its being available as a computerised system, and both the financial management and income; lifestyle and
NPS and Prison Service are making good progress in associates; relationships, drug and/or alcohol misuse
developing the OASys electronic version.
ƒ Personal factors: thinking and behaviour; attitude
towards offending and towards supervision; emotional
3. WHAT OASys PROVIDES factors such as anxiety or depression.

OASys has been designed to: The impact that each of these factors has on the
ƒ Assess how likely an offender is to be reconvicted offender's risk of reconviction is highlighted, as well as the
ƒ Identify and classify offending-related needs including
basic personality characteristics, thinking deficits and
risk of his causing serious harm to others or indeed to
himself.
social issues
ƒ Assess risk of harm to others and also to themselves OASys also contains a section on sentence planning as
ƒ Assist with the management of risk of harm well as a self-assessment questionnaire which the
ƒ Link assessments with supervision plans and sentence
plans
offender is asked to complete. The latter is an important
opportunity for the offender to comment on how he sees
ƒ Indicate need for further specialist assessments himself and his offending. (Evidence suggests that
ƒ Measure how an offender changes during the period of
supervision/sentence
offenders often recognise their problems; whether or not
they do is of interest to the officer conducting the
assessment). OASys will, where appropriate, trigger the
use of further specialist assessments on such issues as
basic skills, violence and substance misuse.

6. IMPLEMENTATION TIMETABLE

Implementation of OASys, first as a paper-based system


but subsequently as an electronic system, is underway
across the National Probation Service. All 42 probation
areas are due to be using the electronic version (known as
e-OASys) early in 2004. Implementation of the Prison
Service's OASys IT system began in April 2003 and is due
to finish towards the end of 2004.

7. HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE?

Contact your local office of the National Probation Service


(NPS). Alternatively you may wish to consult the central
OASys team – write to Nadeem Mohammed at the
National Probation Directorate, 2nd floor Horseferry
House, Dean Ryle Street, London SW1P 2AW; email
nadeem.mohammed@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Previous issues of Important Information for Sentencers


are also available:

ƒ Issue 1: Working Together – Probation and the Courts


ƒ Issue 2: What Works – Reducing Reoffending

Issue 4: Enhanced Community Punishment will be


published in June.

For copies please contact your local Probation Area


Board, call the National Probation Directorate on 020 7217
8696, or visit the National Probation Service website,
where this document and others which may be useful to
sentencers are published:
http://www.probation.homeoffice.gov.uk

Two videos, An Insight into What Works and Enhanced


Community Punishment, are available from local probation
head offices and can be shown at meetings of sentencers.
NATIONAL PROBATION SERVICE
AREAS & TELEPHONE NUMBERS

ƒ Avon & Somerset: 0117 983 0000 ƒ London: 020 7222 5656
ƒ Bedfordshire: 01234 213541 ƒ Merseyside: 0151 920 9201
ƒ Cambridgeshire: 01223 712345 ƒ Norfolk: 01603 220100
ƒ Cheshire: 01244 394500 ƒ Northamptonshire: 01604 658000
ƒ County Durham: 0191 3839083 ƒ Northumbria: 0191 281 5721
ƒ Cumbria: 01228 560057 ƒ North Wales: 01492 513413
ƒ Derbyshire: 01629 55422 ƒ North Yorkshire: 01609 778644
ƒ Devon & Cornwall: 01392 474100 ƒ Nottinghamshire: 0115 840 6500
ƒ Dorset: 01305 224786 ƒ South Wales: 01656 674747
ƒ Dyfed-Powys: 01267 221567 ƒ South Yorkshire: 0114 276 6911
ƒ Essex: 01376 501626 ƒ Staffordshire: 01785 223416
ƒ Gloucestershire: 01452 426250 ƒ Suffolk: 01473 408130
ƒ Greater Manchester: 0161 872 4802 ƒ Surrey: 01483 860191
ƒ Gwent: 01495 762462 ƒ Sussex: 01273 227979
ƒ Hampshire: 01962 842202 ƒ Teesside: 01642 230533
ƒ Hertfordshire: 01992 504444 ƒ Thames Valley: 01869 255300
ƒ Humberside: 01482 867271 ƒ Warwickshire: 01926 405800
ƒ Kent: 01622 350820 ƒ West Mercia: 01562 820071
ƒ Lancashire: 01772 201209 ƒ West Midlands: 0121 248 6666
ƒ Leicestershire & Rutland: 0116 251 ƒ West Yorkshire: 01924 885300
6008
ƒ Wiltshire: 01225 781950
ƒ Lincolnshire: 01522 520776

ISSUE 3 – SPRING 2003