MONEY PAYMENT SUPERVISION ORDERS

PURPOSE
To inform Probation Boards that under current Court guidance Probation Officers should only be required to supervise a Money Payment Supervision Order (MPSO) if they have given their prior agreement to do so.

Probation Circular
REFERENCE NO: 04/2005 ISSUE DATE: 10 January 2004 IMPLEMENTATION DATE: Immediate EXPIRY DATE: January 2010 TO: Chairs of Probation Boards Chief Officers of Probation Secretaries of Probation Boards CC: Board Treasurers Regional Managers Regional What Works Managers Justices’ Clerks’ Society Justices’ Chief Executives Area and Regional Directors AUTHORISED BY: Liz Hill, Head of Public Protection and Courts Unit ATTACHED: N/A

ACTION
Chief Officers should ensure that Probation Officers: • are aware of existing guidance • engage in dialogue with Court administrators on how MPSOs should be handled • continue to supervise MPSOs where these have been ordered by the Court • are aware that the Court should seek agreement to make a direction to NPS to supervise an MPSO and that there is no duty to agree to a Court proposal (as opposed to a final direction) in respect of offenders who are not already subject to supervision by the NPS.

SUMMARY
The information in this Circular should clear up any ambiguities over the Probation Service’s role in supervising MPSOs. This Circular, which has also been copied to the Justices’ Clerks’ Society, Justices’ Chief Executives and Area and Regional Directors, confirms the existing Court guidance on MPSOs. This guidance states that Courts should first seek the agreement of the NPS before MPSOs are directed to the NPS in cases where an offender is already subject to probation supervision. In cases of offenders who are not subject to supervision by the NPS it asserts that the Courts should consider what other organisations might be able to provide the supervisory service (in several areas Court staff have taken on this role). The Courts Act 2003 will be implemented during 2005 and may have an impact on this area of work. This guidance will remain in place until the Department for Constitutional Affairs reviews the position and if necessary they will amend the Magistrates’ Courts rules to further strengthen these arrangements.

RELEVANT PREVIOUS PROBATION CIRCULARS
None

CONTACTS FOR ENQUIRIES
Oliver Dean, 020 7217 0762, oliver.dean@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

National Probation Directorate
Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW General Enquiries: 020 7217 0659 Fax: 020 7217 0660

Enforcement, rehabilitation and public protection

Background Several Probation Areas have raised the issue of Money Payment Supervision Orders (MPSOs) and the role of the Probation Service. It is clear that not all Areas are aware of when and under what circumstances they should be providing supervision for MPSOs and that practice across the country differs significantly. This Circular outlines what the current arrangements are and what steps will be taken to strengthen them in the near future. Section 88 (1) of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 states that: 88 (1) Where any person is adjudged to pay a sum by a summary conviction and the convicting court does not commit him to prison forthwith in default of payment, the court may, either on the occasion of the conviction or on a subsequent occasion, order him to be placed under the supervision of such person as the court may from time to time appoint.

In essence this gives the court the power to place an offender with an MPSO under the supervision of the Probation Service, or any other suitable organisation. However, current DCA guidance on the Enforcement of Financial Penalties issued to the Courts states that in relation to MPSOs: ‘Justices’ Clerks and/or Justices’ Chief Executives should seek agreement with their local Probation Service that MPSOs can be directed to the Probation Service where an offender is already subject to supervision by them. For cases of offenders who are not subject to supervision by the Probation Service, Justices’ Clerks and/ or Justices’ Chief Executives should consider in conjunction with the local Probation Service what other organisations might be able to provide the supervisory service.’ Nothing in this Circular affects the NPS’ responsibility to properly supervise any existing or future MPSO for which the Court may have directed that the NPS is the responsible authority. However, it is clear that under this guidance Probation Officers should only be asked to supervise MPSOs for those who would in any case be supervised because of the effect of a community sentence order. Those not subject to Probation Service supervision should be supervised by other organisations and probation officers are entitled to refuse to agree to be identified as the appropriate responsible authority. It continues to be a key objective of government to rebuild the credibility of financial penalties through increased compliance, which in turn will help ensure that probation resources are targeted effectively at higher-risk offenders. Probation staff are therefore encouraged to work with the courts to ensure that effective arrangements are in place to supervise MPSOs, and to maintain sentencers' confidence that financial penalties will be properly enforced. In several Courts around the country Court staff have agreed to take on all responsibility for MPSOs, it would be worth exploring this option. Any work undertaken by the Probation Service to assist the Courts with MPSO supervision should be integrated within the Finance and Debt Pathway of the National Action Plan to Reduce Reoffending. In addition to this Circular being issued to Probation Areas and the Justices’ Clerks’ Society, the Department for Constitutional Affairs has agreed to circulate it to Justices’ Chief Executives, Area and Regional Directors. Next Steps Chief Officers are asked to bring this Circular to the attention of staff working in the Courts and to other members of staff who are currently, or may in future be asked to supervise an offender subject to an MPSO. Senior managers responsible for liaising with Court administrators may wish to discuss the implications with the relevant Justices’ Clerk or Justices’ Chief Executive and to agree how this clarification of the restriction on placing such orders with the NPS will be managed locally. NPD Public Protection and Courts Unit would be happy to engage with DCA at a national level if any problems arising from this clarification cannot be resolved at a local level. The DCA have also undertaken to strengthen and update rule 56 of the Magistrates’ Rules 1981 (the existing rules on MPSOs) to reinforce the existing guidance in particular to identify who should supervise an MPSO for those not subject to Probation Service supervision. This will be done once the Courts Act has been implemented and if further guidance is required.

PC04/2005 – Money Payment Supervision Orders

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