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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.


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
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
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
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
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.


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.


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

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:

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.

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