Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements

Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements

Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) is the name given to arrangements made between statutory authorities in England and Wales for the management of high and very high risk of serious harm offenders. MAPPA is co-ordinated and supported nationally by the Public Protection Unit of the National Probation Directorate within the National Offender Management Service, but substantive MAPPA work is done at police and probation area level, and normally led by those two agencies as the local "responsible authority".

The Criminal Justice and Courts Services Act 2000 introduced MAPPA arrangements, which were firmed up under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to place a duty on the Police, Probation and Prison Services in England and Wales to work together to co-ordinate and manage dangerous offenders in the community better, with other relative public services.

The MAPPA system cannot guarantee the protection of the public as such, but can only "manage" the risks through the limited powers of each agency as effectively as possible. This means that all steps that can be legitimately taken by the agencies should be taken. MAPPA decision making is frequently fraught with dilemmas. For example, it is not uncommon for a MAPPA meeting to decide to inform a member of the public about an offender's risk to protect that individual or somebody else. However each time that a disclosure is made the Panel loses control of the way that information is used. Some sex offenders have been attacked and killed as a result of public animosity, and others "driven underground" where agencies can't manage them at all.

The Home Office has also introduced Lay Advisors to sit on Strategic Management Panels who have the strategic oversight of MAPPA. These are carefully selected members of the public who have been selected to help with the development and monitoring of Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements and are aimed to boost public confidence in the arrangements.

Assessment of offenders

The legislation requires a three stage process for managing dangerous offenders. Firstly these three agencies in conjunction with partner agencies such as social services and health agencies, need to identify three types of offender living in their area:

  1. Registered Sex Offenders (RSOs),
  2. All Potentially Dangerous Offenders (PDOs) who have received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more in prison for a sexual or violent offence and remain under Probation supervision.
  3. Anyone else who poses a "risk of serious harm to the public" who has received a conviction, and is not already included above.

The legislation then requires that the agencies conduct a formal risk assessment of each offender and allocate them to a tier of interagency management — known as level one, two or three.

Level one represents the management of the offender in the community by one agency, with some liaison. Level two is not clearly defined by the legislation but represents some form of multi-agency discussion and work together. Level three is reserved for the highest level of risk — the Multi-Agency Public Protection Panel.

The Multi-Agency Public Protection Panel (MAPPP) is reserved for the "critical few". These are offenders posing the highest possible level of risk to the public and normally necessitates a specific case conference to pool unusual agency resources and ensure a strategically co-ordinated risk management plan. These might be predatory sex offenders, recidivist arsonists, extremely violent offenders, dangerously mentally ill offenders or people with dangerous personality disorders. At each MAPPP meeting agencies have to share often confidential information, and will in many cases adopt a press strategy.

Risk assessment

Before a management plan is put in place a detailed risk assessment will take place to identify the circumstances and opportunities that are most likely to lead to a further serious offence in this particular offender and the steps that can help reduce this risk. This will study the offender's previous offending history, life circumstances, include psychological assessments (where relevant) and any work in prison that the offender has completed. The Police use a risk assessment tool called Matrix 2000 which is assesses the statistical likelihood of re-offending by a convicted sex offenders. The Probation Service use a nationally validated risk assessment tool called OASYs which help predict the likelihood and circumstances of future offencing behaviour.

Management plan

A management plan is thus highly specific to each offender and their offending history, but might include any of the following:

  1. Accommodation at a Probation Hostel where the offender can be monitored.
  2. A set of licence conditions to prevent the offender leaving the Hostel after a certain time at night, or consuming alcohol or drugs or having contact with children.
  3. A Civil Order such as a Sex Offender Order to prevent the offender doing certain activities, such as not entering a town where a victim resides, not to have unsupervised contact with children.
  4. A duty to report to the Hostel Workers every week to undertake offending reduction counseling and work as part of their licence.
  5. In some very extreme cases there maybe covert monitoring of offenders to protect the public.
  6. A disclosure of information to a member of the public for their protection.

Case studies


Duncan came out of prison after serving 28 months for assaults on young children. He was monitored after release and it emerged that he had begun to referee football matches in the local boys' league.

Using its powers, the MAPPA board which was responsible for his case informed the Football Association and applied, successfully, for a sex offender order which banned Duncan from refereeing.


Alistair had one conviction for a sex offence and was involved in an Internet marketing scheme. He was active in fundraising and worked occasionally at a school on a story-writing project.

When his name was linked to a criminal investigation into the trading of child abuse imagery on the Internet, the MAPPA board decided to inform the Charity Commission and the school. He was also visited and spoken to by the police.

2005 Annual MAPPA report and statistics

Each year the Home Office requires the MAPPA authorities to publish a report on the functioning of their MAPPA arrangements, which can be seen on line.

The number of registered sex offenders in the community rose by 18% in 2005 compared with 2004, according to a Home Office report on the monitoring of violent and sex offenders about under MAPPA arrangements. There were 28,994 sex offenders on the register in England and Wales in 2004-05 - a rise of 4,422 on the previous 12 months. The annual report on Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa) also showed that 993 registered sex offenders were charged or cautioned for new offences during the year despite being under surveillance.

In 2005 there were 44,592 violent and sex offenders monitored by local multi-agency public protection panels (Mappps). The number of "medium" and "high" risk offenders rose by 12,765. This figure included 1,478 of the so-called "critical few" who are subject to the most intensive supervision and may even be put under police surveillance. The report showed 526 offenders were put on measures designed to stop them committing further crimes. This included 503 who were handed sexual offences prevention orders, which can bar offenders from contacting their victims or prevent them from living with minors.

Issues with MAPPA

  1. Recent research has highlighted that standards, practice and procedure varies considerably between local areas and MAPPA arrangements are not uniformly applied.
  2. There has until recently been no extra funding for Police, Probation or Prisons, or indeed other agencies for dedicated resourcing of MAPPA work.
  3. Mental health agencies are reluctant to participate in some areas due to concerns about breaching patient confidentiality by divulging information without a patient's consent to the Police.
  4. The law on information sharing is complex and confusing, and includes a meshing of human rights, data protection, common law and defamation legislation.
  5. Evaluation mechanisms of MAPPA are in most agencies immature and still in process of development. Its therefore hard to know how much these measures are tangibly adding to public protection.
  6. The focus has been on level three cases, but level two cases can be extremely dangerous as well, and there has often been little or no evaluation of the management of these cases in reporting mechanisms.
  7. Recent research indicates that there is inadequate training and professional support for staff working in Public Protection Arrangements across many parts of the country.

External links

MAPPA in the news:


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