Probation Circular

To invite areas to use the guidance in this circular to conduct a review of the assessment and management of the risk of harm posed by offenders sentenced to Unpaid Work. To advise areas about the circumstances in which enhanced criminal record checks on offenders performing Unpaid Work may be appropriate.

REFERENCE NO: 20/2006 ISSUE DATE: 17 May 2006 IMPLEMENTATION DATE: 1 June 2006 EXPIRY DATE: 1 June 2011 TO: Chairs of Probation Boards Chief Officers of Probation Secretaries of Probation Boards CC: Board Treasurers Regional Managers AUTHORISED BY: Sarah Mann, Head of Interventions Unit ATTACHED: N/A

Chief Officers are asked to ensure that this Circular is drawn to the attention of all relevant staff who should note its contents and implement a review of the risk assessment and management of offenders in Unpaid Work using the guidance provided.

Areas need to be confident that they have in place sound procedures for assessing and managing any risks posed by offenders on Unpaid Work. Areas should review their Unpaid Work schemes using the guidance provided in this Circular. For placements on premises where offenders might have access to children or vulnerable adults, areas should consider, in consultation with placement providers, whether enhanced criminal record bureau checks would improve their capacity to manage risk of harm. The NPD is currently updating the Enhanced Community Punishment manual to bring it up to date and to include guidance on Community Payback. The revised manual is expected to be completed in the autumn.

PC10/2005 – Public Protection Framework, Risk of Harm & MAPPA Thresholds

CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES or 020 7217 8877 or 020 7217 8448 Further information about criminal record checks is available from

National Probation Directorate
Abell House, John Islip Street, London, SW1P 4LH

1. Background 1.1 Recently published Effective Supervision Inspection reports from Her Majesty’s Inspection of Probation have been critical of the quality of risk assessment and management of offenders. It is important that all reasonable action has been taken to assess, manage and reduce the risk of harm and of further offending and that these decisions are recorded. Visible Unpaid Work was launched last November as Community Payback with the intention of involving communities in the choice of Unpaid Work projects and of identifying and publicising both the ongoing and completed work. The Home Secretary’s Five Year Strategy for Protecting the Public and Reducing Reoffending makes it clear that the success of Community Payback is to be embedded in all Unpaid Work. It also emphasises that Unpaid Work is at the heart of community sentencing. Unpaid Work is already being piloted in such schemes as Conditional Cautioning, Fines Payment and Child Support defaults. Unpaid Work also features prominently in the Government’s recent Green Paper Reducing Re-offending Through Skills and Employment as one of the ways in which offenders can learn and improve practical and work-place skills leading to further training and employment. This again raises the profile of the Unpaid Work sentence. The Offender Management model introduces the concept of a single responsible Offender Manager throughout a sentence. The main responsibility for risk assessment lies with the Offender Manager but staff delivering Interventions, such as all those in Unpaid Work, also have a clear responsibility for managing identified risk factors and contributing updates to risk reviews.




2. Guidance to Areas Principles of managing offenders’ risk of harm in Unpaid Work 2.1 The over-riding principles in placing any offender on Unpaid Work are: • Procedures must be in place to ensure the safety of the public, the safety of the offender, and all those with whom the offender works including beneficiaries, staff, and other offenders; Risk of harm must be assessed at the start of an Order and reviewed at regular intervals because risks may increase or decrease over the course of an order; As a minimum, risk of harm should be assessed and reviewed using the OASys Risk of Harm screening tool. If this indicates the need for further investigation, a full OASys Risk of Harm analysis should be undertaken. Any cause for concern should be shared with colleagues, both in Interventions and in Offender Management, and appropriate action taken to address risk of harm, including consultation with line managers. All contacts and actions should be recorded on the electronic and paper case file; Unpaid Work is normally not an appropriate disposal for those offenders assessed as presenting a very high risk of harm, regardless of the likelihood of their reconviction. Where offenders are assessed as presenting a high risk of harm and a high likelihood of reconviction, Unpaid Work is again not normally a suitable sentence. Offenders assessed as posing a high risk of harm and a medium or low risk of reconviction may be suitable for Unpaid Work if the risk of harm can be safely managed in the community. In rare cases where the risks posed by an offender sentenced to Unpaid Work are considered to be unacceptable in terms of safe management in the community, consideration should be given to returning the case to Court for re-sentencing.

PC20/2006 – Assessing and Managing Risk of Harm in Unpaid Work


Resources should follow risk: offenders assessed as posing a medium or high risk of harm should be allocated to groups supervised by trained Probation Supervisors. All staff working directly with offenders should receive training that enables them to understand the importance of attention to risk of harm and how their role can contribute to the management of risk. While it is not possible to eliminate risk entirely, it is important to be able to demonstrate that all reasonable action has been taken to reduce the likelihood and impact of risk by making defensible evidence-based decisions. All decisions must be recorded on the case file and endorsed by a manager if necessary.

Managing placements 2.2 Some placements such as schools or residential establishments for the elderly are useful sources of Unpaid Work, both for groups supervised by Probation Service employees and placements in which the work provider supervises offenders on behalf of the Service. Many of these agencies gain great benefit from the free labour Unpaid Work provides. In order to avoid any potential risk Areas must ensure that: • • • • No offenders with previous convictions against children, sexual offences, serious violence or arson are allocated to such a placement Only those assessed as presenting a low risk of harm/low likelihood of reconviction are allocated to such settings And Regardless of their low risk, such offenders should never be directly involved in any activity which could be interpreted as direct personal care or supervision of any child or vulnerable adult and should never be left in sole charge of any child or vulnerable adult. The work providers themselves must understand that offenders should never be expected or allowed to perform such tasks or undertake such responsibilities. Where Unpaid Work providers in such settings routinely obtain enhanced criminal records bureau checks on all those working on their premises, the Area should consider obtaining these for any offenders placed there. Further advice is given below in paragraphs 2.15-2.18.


All proposed work projects and placements should be risk-assessed by trained staff in advance of the work starting and this assessment should be regularly reviewed and updated. Work should only be accepted from reputable agencies and through approved channels to which local Areas have agreed. Particular care must be taken in assessing the suitability of any work proposed directly from individual members of the public through direct telephone calls or websites. Areas are reminded that PC59/04 permitted Areas to relax the 2003 Enhanced Community Punishment guidance of a 6:1 ratio of offenders to supervisors but only for groups of offenders who had been assessed as low risk. This was subject to complying with Health and Safety requirements and Areas’ local policies and agreements on working practices in Unpaid Work.


Sex offenders on Unpaid Work 2.5 Offenders previously or currently convicted of sexual offences and sentenced to Unpaid Work can be particularly difficult to place safely in the community. In assessing such offenders, Areas should consider such safeguards as the following examples: • • • • Ensuring discussion with Unpaid Work staff prior to preparing any report Using the expertise of any specialist staff working with sex offenders, both at the start of an order and at regular reviews Recommending supervision as part of the order Allocating only to groups supervised by probation supervisors 3

PC20/2006 – Assessing and Managing Risk of Harm in Unpaid Work

• • • • • •

Ensuring no work location is used for those with sexual offences where children or vulnerable adults are likely to be present Ensuring appropriate personnel are aware of the nature of a sex offender’s conviction Making suitable arrangements for the safety of the offender him/herself in the event of any disclosure about the conviction Ensuring all Unpaid Work staff receive training on risk of harm including awareness of risk issues associated with sex offenders Reducing the size of the work group to ensure safe management of the individual offenders Ensuring there is a mechanism to feed placement reports or other intelligence gained whilst on the placement to the Offender Manager, who will have responsibility for communicating to other relevant agencies who may be concerned with the management of risk of harm, such as MAPPA, Local Safeguarding Children Board arrangements, Domestic Violence forums.

Review of risk issues in Unpaid Work schemes 2.6 All Areas should review their Unpaid Work schemes to ensure that best practice is followed in the assessment and management of risk posed by offenders sentenced to perform Unpaid Work in the community. Reviews should take into account the principles articulated above and the following points. No offender should be allocated to unpaid work without an OASys Risk of Harm screening being completed. This, and all other information used in preparing any report for the sentencing Court, including previous convictions, should be available to Unpaid Work staff before the offender is allocated work. PC59/04 removed the requirement for a full OASys assessment for those offenders scoring under 41 on OGRS. Changes were made to National Standards in 2005 so that Tier 1 offenders do not require a full OASys to be prepared and nor do Tier 2 offenders who are sentenced to a single stand-alone Unpaid Work requirement. The OASys Risk of Harm Screening should be completed as a minimum requirement and reviewed in accordance with any current guidance issued by NPD. It should be completed again at the end of the Order. If the Risk of Harm screening indicates the need for further investigation, a full OASys Risk of Harm analysis should be undertaken.



Criminal Record Checks 2.9 Probation areas already have information about an offender’s previous convictions. They will not normally have access to information about an offender which may be indicative of cause for concern but that falls short of a conviction or caution. The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) acts as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for organisations, checking police records and, in relevant cases, information held by the Department of Health (DH) and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). There are two levels of CRB check currently available called Standard and Enhanced Disclosures.

2.10 Standard Disclosures show current and spent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer. If the post involves working with children or vulnerable adults, the following may also be searched: • • • Protection of Children Act (POCA) List Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) List Information that is held under Section 142 of the Education Act 2002 (formerly known as List 99)

Enhanced Disclosure (ED) 2.11 This is the highest level of check available to anyone involved in regularly caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of children or vulnerable adults. It is also available in certain licensing purposes and judicial appointments. Enhanced Disclosures contain the same information as the Standard Disclosure but PC20/2006 – Assessing and Managing Risk of Harm in Unpaid Work 4

with the addition of any relevant and proportionate information held by the local Police forces. 2.12 Areas will already be registered bodies and familiar with the process of obtaining Criminal Record Checks as part of staff recruitment procedures. Requesting EDs for offenders will involve a Service staff member completing the form, usually with the offender. The offender has to consent to the request, will need to sign the form, and will have all the required information, such as all previous addresses, which Areas may not hold. The offender will also have to provide documents specified on the form to prove his/her identity. 2.13 The CRB recognises that the Standard and Enhanced Disclosure information can be extremely sensitive and personal, therefore it has published a Code of Practice and employers’ guidance for recipients of Disclosures to ensure they are handled fairly and used properly. A copy of the Standard or Enhanced Disclosure will be sent out to the applicant as well as the Registered Body. 2.14 The CRB target for responding to requests is 28 days. Because National Standards require that offenders start work within 10 working days areas using enhanced disclosure will need to ensure that sufficient work is available so that all orders can start on time even if offenders on some placements are subject to enhanced disclosure. When to consider requesting an enhanced disclosure 2.15 Enhanced Disclosure is available for anyone involved in regularly caring for, training, supervising, or being in sole charge of, children or vulnerable adults. Enhanced Disclosure may therefore be appropriate where an offender will be working on premises where children or vulnerable adults are present and the placement provider would routinely conduct EDs on all those working on the premises. Offenders who are being considered for allocation to work on such premises should first meet the criteria set out above in paragraph 2.2 2.16 In deciding, in consultation with the placement provider, whether or not to undertake EDs, Areas will want to consider all aspects of the placement and its management. ED cases are most likely to be appropriate where: • • • Children or vulnerable adults are present on the premises and the offender may have access to them; The placement is on private premises or premises where access to members of the public is restricted (e.g. schools, hospitals); The placement provider would normally carry out ED checks on all those working on the premises

2.17 Areas should note that offenders have to consent to ED checks and if they refuse they should automatically be considered unsuitable for work in these settings. Cost of enhanced disclosure 2.18 The current cost of an enhanced disclosure is £36. It will be for areas to decide whether to bear the additional cost of disclosure themselves; whether to seek to share it with the beneficiary, or whether to select only placements where the additional safeguard of enhanced disclosure is not necessary. Protocols for sharing of Police information 2.19 One recent well-publicised incident highlighted shortcomings in the sharing of relevant information held by the Police with the local Probation Service. The National Probation Directorate’s Offender Management Unit is currently liaising with the Police at national level to seek to improve the appropriate sharing of information held by the Police, where it could assist in the safe placing of offenders in the community. Further advice will be issued. Meanwhile, Probation Areas should ensure that any relevant information received from any other source, such as Police, Social Care, Health etc, is made known to Unpaid Work staff and that it is taken into account in reviewing risk and the appropriateness of allocated work.

PC20/2006 – Assessing and Managing Risk of Harm in Unpaid Work


Further Guidance 2.20 The NPD is currently revising the Enhanced Community Punishment Manual to take account of the guidance that has been issued since it was published, in particular Community Payback. The new guidance is expected to be ready in the autumn.

PC20/2006 – Assessing and Managing Risk of Harm in Unpaid Work