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
The Offender Assessment System, which is usually shortened to OASys (pronounced "oasis"), is a standardised process for the assessment of offenders that has been developed jointly by the National Probation Service (NPS) and the Prison Service. It improves the quality of assessment by introducing a structured, research-based approach to assessing an offender's likelihood of reconviction, the criminogenic factors associated with offending, and the risk of harm he or she presents. The introduction of OASys in the NPS is well advanced and the Prison Service is introducing it from April this year. OASys will replace other assessment tools such as ACE and LSI-R. An OASys assessment will be carried out at the stage that the pre-sentence report (PSR) is produced, with further assessments conducted periodically throughout the sentence (whether in custody or in the community) and at the end of sentence. If there is no PSR, OASys will be completed for the first time at commencement of the sentence.

4. WHO WILL BE ASSESSED USING OASys?
OASys will be used for the following groups: All offenders subject to court ordered pre-sentence reports All adult offenders subject to community penalties Residents of approved probation premises, including those on bail Adults serving six months or more in custody Young offenders serving one month or more in custody Those released from prison on licence

2. OASys BASICS
OASys was developed as a set of paper forms that break down into a number of different sections. Having interviewed the offender and read other relevant papers the assessor completes the OASys documentation through ticked yes/no, scored or free-text responses to questions. For example, these may relate to the offender's criminal history, drug misuse, attitudes and so on. The full benefits of OASys will only be realised through its being available as a computerised system, and both the NPS and Prison Service are making good progress in developing the OASys electronic version.

5. HOW DOES OASys WORK?
The main part of OASys examines the following factors which research shows to predict the likelihood of an offender being reconvicted: Offending history and current offence Social and economic factors: access to accommodation; education, training and employability; financial management and income; lifestyle and associates; relationships, drug and/or alcohol misuse Personal factors: thinking and behaviour; attitude towards offending and towards supervision; emotional factors such as anxiety or depression. The impact that each of these factors has on the offender's risk of reconviction is highlighted, as well as the risk of his causing serious harm to others or indeed to himself. OASys also contains a section on sentence planning as well as a self-assessment questionnaire which the offender is asked to complete. The latter is an important opportunity for the offender to comment on how he sees himself and his offending. (Evidence suggests that 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

3. WHAT OASys PROVIDES
OASys has been designed to: Assess how likely an offender is to be reconvicted Identify and classify offending-related needs including basic personality characteristics, thinking deficits and social issues Assess risk of harm to others and also to themselves Assist with the management of risk of harm Link assessments with supervision plans and sentence plans Indicate need for further specialist assessments Measure how an offender changes during the period of supervision/sentence

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: Issue 1: Working Together – Probation and the Courts 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

Avon & Somerset: 0117 983 0000 Bedfordshire: 01234 213541 Cambridgeshire: 01223 712345 Cheshire: 01244 394500 County Durham: 0191 3839083 Cumbria: 01228 560057 Derbyshire: 01629 55422 Devon & Cornwall: 01392 474100 Dorset: 01305 224786 Dyfed-Powys: 01267 221567 Essex: 01376 501626 Gloucestershire: 01452 426250 Greater Manchester: 0161 872 4802 Gwent: 01495 762462 Hampshire: 01962 842202 Hertfordshire: 01992 504444 Humberside: 01482 867271 Kent: 01622 350820 Lancashire: 01772 201209 Leicestershire & Rutland: 0116 251 6008 Lincolnshire: 01522 520776

London: 020 7222 5656 Merseyside: 0151 920 9201 Norfolk: 01603 220100 Northamptonshire: 01604 658000 Northumbria: 0191 281 5721 North Wales: 01492 513413 North Yorkshire: 01609 778644 Nottinghamshire: 0115 840 6500 South Wales: 01656 674747 South Yorkshire: 0114 276 6911 Staffordshire: 01785 223416 Suffolk: 01473 408130 Surrey: 01483 860191 Sussex: 01273 227979 Teesside: 01642 230533 Thames Valley: 01869 255300 Warwickshire: 01926 405800 West Mercia: 01562 820071 West Midlands: 0121 248 6666 West Yorkshire: 01924 885300 Wiltshire: 01225 781950

ISSUE 3 – SPRING 2003