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Probation

Circular

ASSESSING AND MANAGING RISK REFERENCE NO:


OF HARM IN UNPAID WORK 20/2006

PURPOSE ISSUE DATE:


To invite areas to use the guidance in this circular to conduct a review of the 17 May 2006
assessment and management of the risk of harm posed by offenders
sentenced to Unpaid Work. IMPLEMENTATION DATE:
1 June 2006
To advise areas about the circumstances in which enhanced criminal record
checks on offenders performing Unpaid Work may be appropriate. EXPIRY DATE:
1 June 2011
ACTION
Chief Officers are asked to ensure that this Circular is drawn to the attention TO:
of all relevant staff who should note its contents and implement a review of Chairs of Probation Boards
the risk assessment and management of offenders in Unpaid Work using the Chief Officers of Probation
guidance provided. Secretaries of Probation Boards

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

RELEVANT PREVIOUS PROBATION CIRCULARS


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

CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES


Janet.Power3@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk or 020 7217 8877
Sebastian.Falk@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk or 020 7217 8448

Further information about criminal record checks is available from


http://www.crb.gov.uk/

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.

1.2 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 Re-
offending 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.

1.3 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.

1.4 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.

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• 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.

2.3 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.

2.4 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

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• 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.

2.7 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.

2.8 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

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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.

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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.

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