1. Research undertaken in England and Wales highlighted the importance of good co-ordination between agencies and recommended that the arrangements for joint working should be supported by the development of a co-ordination/ management function. This allows the arrangements to be co-ordinated from a central point (in the community justice authority) ensuring a single point of contact and advice on MAPPA arrangements and a dedicated function on behalf of all the responsible authorities.
2. Systematic co-ordination of MAPPA functions will be key to the delivery of public protection. The co-ordination role will have a key role in ensuring that the identification and information sharing functions of the framework work effectively. A model job description and person specification is included in Annex C.
3. The main functions of the co-ordination role are designed to allow all agencies who have a statutory responsibility to do the following:
- To receive details of all offenders who pose a risk of serious harm to others and for whom a multi-agency risk management plan is necessary in order to manage that risk.
- To make referral of sexual or violent offenders whose risk of serious harm they consider needs to be managed through a multi-agency meeting at either Level 2 or Level 3 (MAPPP).
- To share information relevant to the management of serious harm with other agencies within MAPPA on the basis that the information will be held securely and used by appropriate personnel within those agencies for public protection purposes only.
- To help determine if their agency is a core partner in terms of the delivery of risk assessment and risk management plans that address the risk of serious harm.
- To receive the risk management plans and notes from all relevant Level 2 and Level 3 (MAPPP) meetings showing clearly the status of each offender, the agencies delivering components of the plan, timescales, review arrangements and the point at which the offender exits the multi-agency risk management process.
- To provide a single point of contact and advice on all aspects of MAPPA.
4. Importantly the coordinator role will be a dedicated function carried out on behalf of the Responsible Authorities, accountable to those operating the joint arrangements. It will be designed to facilitate multi-agency risk management being focused on the right people in a timely and efficient manner with the aim of delivering robust and defensible management plans that address known indicators of serious harm to others. The remit of the MAPPA Coordinator will not extend to responsibility for areas that fall within the remit and responsibility of the individual agencies.
5. The role of the MAPPA Co-ordinator will include the following main responsibilities:
- Provide a central point of reference for responsible authorities and agencies in relation to the management of risk posed by potentially dangerous offenders
- Receive notifications and referrals to MAPPA
- Act as gatekeeper - ensuring that appropriate referrals are made at the correct level of risk
- Negotiate with senior managers in the responsible authorities, primarily police, social work and prison service as to the appropriateness of referrals and challenge referral decisions if the criteria do not appear to have been met.
- Identify which agencies are central to the delivery of the risk management plan and organise appropriate attendance at meetings.
- Require agencies to search records for relevant information and collation of the pre meeting information.
- Arrange meetings, ensuring that invitations to attend and supporting documentation are sent out on time.
- Provide quality assurance of MAPPA processes and monitor work to ensure a consistency of approach and that informed and appropriate decisions are taken
- Manage the administration support staff who will be responsible for preparation and distribution of the minutes of level 2 meetings and level 3 Multi Agency Public Protection Panels (MAPPS)
- Bring forward and schedule review meetings
- Attend level 3 MAPPP meetings
- Maintain and collate statistical information in order to inform evaluation and statistical reports.
- Draft an annual report on behalf of the responsible authorities
- Attend training courses relevant to the risk assessment and management of dangerous offenders
- Develop inter-agency liaison including in relation to the development of joint training on risk assessment and management
- Inform other areas when an offender subject to MAPPA moves into their area
- Ensure that the principles in relation to sharing information, confidentiality and disclosure are maintained as outlined in the Memorandum under the Duty to Cooperate.
- Actively market the work of Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements
- Access and, where appropriate, input information onto ViSOR
- Undertake such other reasonable duties as may be required from time to time.
6. It is important that MAPPA meetings are well organised and that accurate records of them are made and safely kept to reflect defensible decision-making. Work is underway to incorporate a standard MAPPA meeting template within VISOR to ensure consistency of approach. Until that is available the arrangements outlined in the draft standing agenda (below) should be adopted. This will ensure consistency of approach to this important part of MAPPA practice and increase the confidence of those attending the meetings.
7. In drawing up the standing agenda we have identified three broad purposes of the MAPPP and other level meetings:
(i) initial case consideration;
(ii) case review; and
(iii) consideration of case-related issues.
8. The draft standing agenda reflects all three purposes, not all of which may be the objective of every meeting, although parts I, II, III and IV of the following paragraph are directly relevant to the initial case consideration and case review purposes.
9. The record of every meeting must clarify whether it is an initial or a review meeting.
Proposed Standing Agenda for MAPPA meetings:
I. Statement of confidentiality
- To remind and reassure those attending of the sensitive nature of some of the information shared at the meetings - (reference to the Memorandum of Understanding and local protocols on information sharing may be helpful.)
II. Sharing and Considering Information
- Preparation: all the written information relevant to the purpose of the meeting should be distributed in good time before the meeting so that discussion focuses upon the actual assessment and plans to manage risk.
- Updating and clarifying: the meeting will need to ensure that the information to hand is up to date and any unclear issues or information clarified.
- Validating: identify whether all those who need to inform the discussion and decision-making are represented or have at least shared the information they have.
- Diversity issues: identify and give due consideration to diversity issues - whether, in respect of either the offender or the actual or potential victim, there are gender, age, sexuality, racial, religious, disability or any other issues which may lead to unfair and unlawful discrimination which affect the assessment AND the management of risks.
III. Assessment of Risks
- Identify the risks: their seriousness, likelihood and imminence and the relevant offending-related factors.
- Identify who is or might be at risk - it is recommended that victim issues are specifically considered and noted
- Identify the compliance and motivation of the offender and what may promote and diminish these
IV. Planning Risk Management
- As is clear, this part of the meeting falls out of parts II and III. Emphasis here is placed upon making explicit the links between the conclusions reached in parts II and III and this section. Risk management plans cannot merely be generally informed by the consideration of the information shared and the assessment of risks but, to ensure a defensibility of decision-making, must be explicitly connected to them.
- Relating risk management to risk assessment: each feature of the management plan must relate directly to the features of the risks identified in the assessment of risks. It must link agreed actions to risk and/or the factors associated with risk.
- Involving the offender: consideration can be given here to involving the offender if considered appropriate.
- Clear definition of each agreed action: there are other means of providing this definition, S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed) is one.
- Accountability: the responsibility for each agreed action with the contributory roles of other individuals/agencies, must be clearly identified.
- Key contacts: this follows from the accountability principle - a single point of contact ensures that the delivery of the management plan, however many agencies it involves, is informed by new information or changes in any of the variables which affect risk and its management. In the most difficult and complex of cases, operational command procedures may replace single point of contact arrangements.
- Contingency planning - what needs to happen if risk increases or an element of the risk management plan does not happen
- Consideration as to whether the level of MAPPA should be increased or decreased.
The ultimate decision on whether third party disclosure should take place lies with the Chief Constable. However disclosure usually does not take place without consultation between the police and other agencies responsible for the management of the offender. As the requirements to consider community notification and recording and reporting of instances of community notification increase as a result of reviews across the UK jurisdiction, the MAPPA provide a focus at case management level for agencies to actively take community notification into consideration. To ensure that this forms part of the offender management process, the MAPPA meeting should consider the following
Does community notification need to take place?
- if no this should be recorded
- if yes, reason for disclosure
- if yes, date at which it took place
- if yes, to whom
VI. Consideration of case-related Issues
- It is good practice to include at every case conference/MAPPA meeting time to consider issues which may have arisen from the cases specifically considered but which have a wider significance.
Records of meetings
10. These records will form the basis of much of the defensible decision-making. This does not mean however that they are openly disclosed. (See Part 4) MAPPA meetings can involve very sensitive information. Building trust between agencies, which is the basis for effective information sharing, will require confidence in the organisation and the accuracy and security of its record keeping.
11. To ensure accuracy of the records of the higher level meetings, these meetings may be tape-recorded. The tapes can be used by the person writing the minutes to clarify/confirm what was said. Tapes should NOT be kept but erased once the record has been agreed. Time spent revising the record at subsequent meetings can be avoided by ensuring that the record, which should comprise a separate minute on each case considered, is prepared and distributed in draft as quickly as possible; and recipients should be required to suggest amendments within a short period.
12. The minutes of the Level 2 and Level 3 (MAPPP) should be produced within 5 working days and sent under confidential cover to the member of the central (core) agencies through the Single Point of Contact (SPOC). They should summarise the Stage 2 referral and reference the pre-information exchange. They must show clearly how risk is assessed, the critical aspects for risk management and the risk management plan detailing specifically the actions, the person responsible for each particular action and the timescale for completion. A date for review must also be set. The agency must determine how such notes are stored securely and can be accessed in the event of an emergency or by other agency personnel having legitimate access.
13. Most agencies now work in an environment with subject access requests under data protection guidelines. It is clearly important that notes indicate explicitly what information is not to be disclosed to the offender and the reasons why such disclosure is restricted. In a small number of cases it is anticipated that disclosure of any nature would properly be resisted on the basis that it would heighten the risk of serious harm to others or self. This will also facilitate decisions at a later stage about access to notes.
14. While the offender will not be involved in the Level 2/ Level 3 (MAPPP) meetings there should be a clearly stated mechanism for consulting with the offender both before and after risk meetings. This will fall to the responsible authority i.e. the supervising officer or police officer with responsibility for the case. Engaging the offender in the reality of risk management can be productive. This reflects the critical contribution which offenders themselves can make to changing offending behaviour and for taking responsibility for their actions. Offenders must be aware that they are being managed through the MAPPA, what the MAPPA is, and what that means for them as individuals.
15. Review meetings will primarily be a review of the risk management plan, whether the actions have been delivered, whether any new information has been received that alters the risk assessment and whether there continues to be a need to manage the risk of serious harm in this multi-agency forum.
16. Responsible Authorities and Duty to Cooperate agencies will continue to have a responsibility to inform the MAPPA co-ordinator of any information they receive that indicates a change in the risk of serious harm posed by an offender, in either a positive or negative manner. Review meetings must be called to ensure that any change is addressed.
17. In order that the risk management process can be seen to be proportionate and fair, issues of diversity must be included in personal data recorded for offenders and victims.
18. Contingency plans should be put in place for all offenders. The plans must include relevant contact points for emergency action ( including out of hours contacts) or instructions for all agencies involved to call a MAPPPA or MAPPP meeting at short notice. Public protection is paramount and therefore agencies should not delay if they consider that any action or incident has or could lead to increased risk posed by the offender.