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Probation

Circular

NEW PROCEDURES FOR REFERENCE NO:


MONITORING DEATHS UNDER 60/2005

SUPERVISION ISSUE DATE:


11 August 2005
PURPOSE
This circular establishes new procedures to be followed where it is
IMPLEMENTATION DATE:
discovered that an offender under the supervision of the National
1 October 2005
Probation Service (NPS) has died. The purpose of the new
procedures will be to enhance the care and welfare of both offenders
EXPIRY DATE:
and NPS staff and to collect data that can inform future strategies to
improve accountability. September 2010

ACTION TO:
Chief Officers are asked to bring the contents of this circular to the Chairs of Probation Boards
attention of all staff, and ensure that an Assistant Chief Officer is Chief Officers of Probation
assigned to monitor the details of deaths of offenders under NPS Secretaries of Probation Boards
supervision.
CC:
SUMMARY Board Treasurers
This circular asks Probation Areas to ensure systems are established Regional Managers
for:
™ reviewing relevant circumstances surrounding the death of
AUTHORISED BY:
offenders under supervision by the NPS;
John Scott, Head of Public
™ helping relevant staff, of whatever grade, deal with the potential
Protection and Licence Release
impact of an offender’s death; Section
™ making an annual report on deaths of offenders under supervision,
together with any relevant learning, to the National Offender
ATTACHED:
Management Service (NOMS).
Annex A – Annual Report to
NOMS on Deaths Under NPS
RELEVANT PREVIOUS PROBATION CIRCULARS Supervision
PC02/2004 – Deaths of Approved Premises Residents.
PC54/2003 – Serious Further Offences
Annex B – Report to ACO on the
Death of an Offender Under NPS
CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES
Supervision
Enquiries about this circular to:
Akile Osman 020 7217 8058
akile.osman@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk Annex C – Report on the
Circumstances of Death
Or,
Jo Thompson 020 7217 8823
jo.thompson8@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk Annex D – Instructions for
Annual Reports to be sent to: Jo Thompson, Public Protection and Completing the Forms at Annex
A,B & C
Licence Release Section, NOMS, First Floor, Horseferry House, Dean
Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW

National Probation Directorate


Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW
BACKGROUND

1. Despite long standing arrangements for investigating and reporting deaths of offenders who reside in
Approved Premises (recently updated in PC 2/2004), little is known of the extent of deaths of offenders under
other forms of supervision by the Probation Service.

2. Although the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman’s (PPO) role investigating deaths in custody and
Approved Premises does not extend automatically to broader supervision by the NPS, the office of the PPO
may investigate a death under any circumstances should it choose to do so, on the request of the relatives or
of the Home Secretary.

3. It is recognised that the relationship of the NPS to offenders under supervision in the community is
different from its relationship to offenders residing in Approved Premises. Nevertheless, with a view to
constantly improving practice, it is important that the NPS is aware of the nature of any deaths or any
circumstances which may have contributed to a premature death.

4. The NPS has a duty of care towards its staff which requires it to ensure that appropriate procedures
are in place to support individual members of staff who suffer trauma and distress where offenders under their
supervision die.

ACTION

5. Chief Officers should appoint an Assistant Chief Officer responsible for monitoring deaths of offenders
under supervision and for making an annual report to the NPD on behalf of the Probation Area. A template for
the report is attached at Annex A. This will be a collated report highlighting data such as the age of the
offenders, the nature of the deaths and ethnicity. It will be largely statistical but will include space for reporting
any changes in local procedures resulting from the investigation of a death under supervision. It is intended
that this report should highlight any particular trends in each area and allow the NPS to use these figures when
devising future strategies. The ACO will also be responsible for ensuring that the following procedures are put
in place.

PROCEDURES

6. When a staff member supervising an offender becomes aware of the death of the offender, he/she
should immediately report the death to the Senior Probation Officer (SPO) responsible for that case. The SPO
should then initiate three courses of action:

™ Firstly, separately from the normal course of supervision, he or she should arrange a brief meeting with
the supervising officer and any other relevant staff.

a) The purpose of this meeting is to establish whether it is necessary to discuss together or


separately the effects on individuals of the death. This initial contact need only be brief but
should take place on the day that the Probation Office is made aware of the death (or, if that is
not practical, as soon as possible thereafter).

b) Since the effects of some trauma may become more pronounced with time, it should be made
clear to staff that this will not be their only opportunity to discuss any subsequent reaction to a
death.

c) Arrangements for any member of staff who requests further assistance to discuss his/her
feelings with the SPO or with another member of staff should be made at the earliest
opportunity.

d) Most Probation Areas will already have counselling services in place, and it is important that the
SPO informs the supervising officer of these services and enables him/her to take up the
opportunity of using them.

PC60/2005 – New Procedures for Monitoring Deaths under Supervision 2


™ Second, he or she should inform the ACO responsible for monitoring deaths under supervision, of the
death and complete the report (Annex B) informing the ACO of the details of the deceased. It is
particularly important to highlight if there is likely to be any media interest. This report needs to be
completed within 24 hours of the office finding out that the offender has died.

™ Thirdly, the ACO should review the circumstances of the offender’s death (once discovered) and
discuss them with the SPO and any other relevant staff, including partner organisations.

a) This will almost certainly involve further investigation. It is not appropriate to assign a target to
this process since it is dependent on other agencies’ involvement. e.g. the Police, the Coroner
or may necessitate awaiting the outcome of a trial.

b) It will be important that a clear and detailed factual record is kept of any relevant circumstances
surrounding such a death, once discovered. This record should be as contemporaneous as
possible. In the event that the conduct of any NPS employee is subject to scrutiny either by the
PPO, a coroner or as part of civil or criminal proceedings such records will be vital for helping
establish what happened and how.

c) When those investigations are complete, the SPO should arrange an interview with the
supervising officer. The purpose of the interview will be to establish the extent of any NPS
concerns about the quality of care and supervision of the offender, along with the circumstances
surrounding the offender’s death so that the SPO can prepare a brief report (Annex C) to the
responsible ACO. This report will inform the ACO of the details of the death, any information
given or required to be disclosed by the Coroner (if necessary), whether there are any links
between the death and OASys/risk of harm levels and whether any further action needs to be
commenced.

d) Few time limits have been assigned to these procedures for reasons which have been made
clear. However, good practice in terms of the NPS duty of care to staff involves early meetings
with staff involved with the offender or with those staff members affected by the death.

7. At the point where the responsible ACO is notified of the death, he or she should make a judgement on
the basis of the information available, about whether to notify the Press Officer at the local Area HQ and/or the
NPD. In the absence of press interest or the possibility thereof, it will not normally be necessary to report
individual deaths to the NPD, unless required by other instructions.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION 2000 AND DATA PROTECTION ACT 1998

8. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), there is specific guidance relating to requests for
information on deceased offenders. Whilst the form that needs to be completed (at annex C) covers issues
such as the offender’s details and the circumstances of the death, there is nothing in the Act which will prevent
these forms from being disclosed (if requested). Therefore it is of particular importance to carefully record the
sections on management action and risks which were previously identified by the NPS, remembering that third
parties may request the papers.

9. Under the Data Protection Act, sensitive personal details (which could include physical or mental health
and criminal proceedings or convictions) which are held on an individual whilst they are alive could be
protected from the public. However once that individual is deceased, that information would no longer be
protected under the Data Protection Act and could therefore become accessible to the general public under
the Freedom of Information Act. There are some “qualified” exemptions from disclosure under the FOI, such
as the impact that such information would have on people involved with the offender, i.e. victims of the
offender’s crimes, the family of the offender or victim, etc; but most of the information would be accessible by
the public. Accordingly, even if the exemptions apply, the public interest test has to be applied to determine

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whether information should be disclosed or withheld. Further information concerning the exemptions under the
FOI can be found at the Information Commissioner’s website at:

www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk/eventual.aspx?id=8263

OTHER MATTERS

10. It will not normally be the responsibility of NPS staff to notify either the relatives or close friends of the
offender’s death, as this will fall under the remit of the Police. The supervising officer should, however, ensure
that the Victim Liaison Officer (VLO) is notified, where the VLO is in contact with the offender’s victim/s, who
will in turn be notified of the offender’s death.

11. Where offenders under supervision die at the hands of another offender under supervision by the NPS,
the death should be recorded in the statistics reported to the National Probation Directorate by virtue of this
circular but any separate investigation of the circumstances surrounding the death need not be pursued since
a serious further offence report / investigation will be commenced.

12. Where offenders resident in Approved Premises die while under supervision by the NPS, their deaths
should be recorded in the statistics reported to the NPD by virtue of this circular, but any separate investigation
will be undertaken by the PPO, as set out in PC 02/2004. All of the procedures set out in PC 02/2004 remain
in place.

13. This circular must be implemented by 1st October 2005 (recording should begin from this date) and
should run until 31st March 2006, as an annual report will be needed for 2005/06. The completed annual report
should be sent to Jo Thompson (PPLRS, NOMS, 1st Floor Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London SW1A
2AE) by 20th April 2006. From then on, the reporting year will be a standard fiscal year running from 1st April
until 31st March each year.

PC60/2005 – New Procedures for Monitoring Deaths under Supervision 4


ANNEX A – ANNUAL REPORT TO NPD
ON DEATHS OF OFFENDERS UNDER
NPS SUPERVISION

Probation Area: Originating Officer:

Contact details:

Total Number of Deaths During the Year to 31 March:

Total Number of Deaths Investigated:

TOTAL MALE DEATHS:

CAUSE OF Misadventure Suicide: Unlawful Open:


DEATHS OR or Accident: killing:
CORONERS
VERDICTS:

Other including Industrial Natural Drug


Narrative Diseases: Causes: Overdose:
Verdict:

Awaiting:

TYPE OF
SENTENCE /
SUPERVISION:

OLD Community Suspended Automatic Discretionary


SENTENCES: Order: Sentence Conditional Conditional
Order: Release (ACR): Release (DCR):

Lifer: Non-Parole Young


Release (NPD): Offender:

NEW Imprisonment Extended Standard Intermittent


SENTENCES: for Public Sentence: Determinate Custody:
Protection Sentence
(IPP): (SDS):

New Suspended Custody Plus: Deferment of


Community Sentence Sentence:
Order: Order (Custody
Minus):

NUMBER RESIDENT IN APPROVED PREMISES (Bailles Included):

ETHNICITY

TOTAL WHITE: TOTAL MIXED: TOTAL ASIAN: TOTAL TOTAL


BLACK: CHINESE:
British: W&B Indian: Caribbean: Chinese:
Caribbean:
Irish: W&B African: Pakistani: African: Other:

Other: W & Asian: Bangladeshi: Other:

Other:

ETHNICITY NOT AVAILABLE:

AGE RANGE

18-24: 25-35: 36-49: 50-65: 65+:

TOTAL FEMALE DEATHS:

CAUSE OF Misadventure Suicide: Unlawful Open:


DEATHS OR or Accident: killing:
CORONERS
VERDICTS:

Other including Industrial Natural Drug


Narrative Diseases: Causes: Overdose:
Verdict:

Awaiting:
TYPE OF
SENTENCE /
SUPERVISION:

OLD Community Suspended Automatic Discretionary


SENTENCES: Order: Sentence Conditional Conditional
Order: Release (ACR): Release (DCR):

Lifer: Non-Parole Young


Release (NPD): Offender:

NEW Imprisonment Extended Standard Intermittent


SENTENCES: for Public Sentence: Determinate Custody:
Protection Sentence
(IPP): (SDS):

New Suspended Custody Plus: Deferment of


Community Sentence Sentence:
Order: Order (Custody
Minus):

NUMBER RESIDENT IN APPROVED PREMISES (Bailles Included):

ETHNICITY

TOTAL WHITE: TOTAL MIXED: TOTAL ASIAN: TOTAL TOTAL


BLACK: CHINESE:
British: W&B Indian: Caribbean: Chinese:
Caribbean:
Irish: W&B African: Pakistani: African: Other:

Other: W & Asian: Bangladeshi: Other:

Other:

ETHNICITY NOT AVAILABLE:

AGE RANGE

18-24: 25-35: 36-49: 50-65: 65+:


Have you made any changes to policy/procedures as a result of a death or
deaths of offenders under supervision (training / development / staff care)?
YES / NO

If yes, please describe:

Can you highlight any good practice undertaken that has arisen out of this
monitoring?
ANNEX B – REPORT TO ACO ON THE
DEATH OF AN OFFENDER UNDER NPS
SUPERVISION

Office:

Originating Senior Probation Officer:

Contact details:

OFFENDER DETAILS

Offender’s Name:

Gender:

Ethnicity:

Age:

Offence(s):

Type of supervision:

Approved Premises resident:


Brief description of reporting level, programmes, requirements,
compliance etc:

Likely to be Media Interest:

Victim Liaison Officer:


ANNEX C – OFFICIAL CAUSE AND
CIRCUMSTANCES OF DEATH

Office:

Originating Senior Probation Officer:

Contact details:

Offender’s Name:

Gender:

Ethnicity:

Age:

Date of Death:

Official Cause of Death or Coroner’s Verdict:

Describe briefly:

™ Was the cause of death linked to any identified criminogenic need


in OASys - Risk of Harm levels (age; locality; presenting
behaviour; were support measures in place)? YES / NO

If yes, please describe:


™ Have you made any changes to policy/procedure as a result of the
death (welfare; training / development)? YES / NO

If yes, please describe:

™ Does any further action need to be taken in regard to the death of


this offender? YES / NO

If yes, please describe:


ANNEX D – INSTRUCTIONS FOR
COMPLETING THE FORMS AT ANNEX A,
B&C

Annex A – Annual Report to NPD on Deaths of Offenders


Under NPS Supervision
This annual report is to be completed at the end of each fiscal year (31st
March) by the nominated Assistant Chief Officer in each area, who has
responsibility for monitoring the deaths of offenders supervised by the
National Probation Service.

This is an overall look at the deaths which have occurred and is based mainly
on the statistical collation of each death.

Total Male/Female Deaths – This is the total number of deaths of


males/females in your specific area throughout this reporting year.

Cause of Deaths or Coroners Verdicts – In this section the ACO is


expected to breakdown the number of deaths into their appropriate
categories. Hence if there were 10 deaths in that reporting year and three of
them were caused by misadventure or accident then the ACO would mark
that box with the number three, etc.

Narrative verdicts are brief statements, prepared by the coroner, describing


how the person came by his/her death and are used where short form verdicts
do not adequately describe what happened.

If no outcome on the cause of death has been confirmed by the time the
reporting period ends then the ACO would mark the box entitled ‘awaiting’.
Although this box will be marked the actual figure will not be collated until the
following reporting year once we have a definative cause of death.

Type of Supervision – This section is to highlight if there is a particularly high


number of deaths of offenders who are subject to a specific type of
supervision. Therefore if, of the 10 aforementioned deaths, 6 of them were
offenders who were subject to a community order then the ACO would mark 6
in the appropriate box.

Custody + has been included on this form to account for the expected
implementation in Autumn 2006.

Deferment of Sentence – The Criminal Justice Act 2003 introduces new


provisions relating to the deferment of sentences. It allows the court to appoint
the National Probation Service, or other responsible person (with their
consent) to oversee the offender’s conduct during the deferment period and
prepare a report for the court at the point of sentence (ie the end of the
deferment period). Where an offender dies during this period of deferment
and the National Probation Service was appointed to oversee the individual’s
conduct, it should be counted in the appropriate box.

Ethnicity – This section has been designed to mirror the categories in an


OASys form. The ACO is expected to give figures for both the total number of
individuals from each ethnic background and then to sub-divide the number
into ethnic sub-category.
Age Range – This section is in order for us to monitor the trends concerning
the ages of the offenders who have died whilst under NPS supervision. This
section is simply a collation of the deaths in each age group.

Have you made any changes to policy/procedures as a result of a death


or deaths of offenders under supervision – Self-explanatory. Please
explain briefly any changes which may have occurred. These can be changes
in the training of staff, changes to the way you refer staff to counselling
services, etc.

Annex B - Report to ACO on the Death of an Offender Under


NPS Supervision
Most of this form is self-explanatory. The only sections that may need
clarification are:

Likely to be Media Interest – this section is very important in highlighting to


the ACO whether or not there is likely to be media interest surrounding the
death of this particular offender. If there is likely to be interest it is the
responsibility of the ACO to contact the appropriate press office/PR team and
explain the situation to them.

Victim Liaison Officer – Once an office has been informed of the death of
one of their offenders the supervising officer has a responsibility to inform the
relevant Victim Liaison Officer (if appropriate). This section just needs the
name of that officer.

Annex C

Cause of Death or Coroner’s Verdict – This section needs a brief comment


regarding the official cause of the death or the coroner’s verdict. This does not
need to be substantial unless the coroner has given a narrative verdict in
which case it should be fully transcribed.

Was the cause of death linked to any identified criminogenic need in


OASys and Risk of Harm levels – If the answer is yes we would like an
explanation. Were factors identified which led to concerns about the
offender’s risk of self-harm/vulnerability. If risks were identified – how were
they being addressed?

Have you made any changes to policy/procedures as a result of a death


or deaths of offenders under supervision – Self-explanatory. Please
explain briefly any changes which may have occurred. These can be changes
in the training of staff, revision of the local Strategy for reducing sudden
deaths in Approved premises, changes to the way you refer staff to
counselling services, etc.