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Northumbria Probation Area

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Managing and assessing risk

Our key priority is protecting the public from harm. An important part of this is managing the risk posed by the offenders we supervise.

All offenders are assessed to establish the level of risk they pose to the public. This process usually begins with their first contact with us, often before they have been sentenced. Once an offender pleads guilty, or is found guilty, the court will normally request a pre sentence report before they decide on the most appropriate sentence. An important part of this report is an assessment of the risk the offender poses.

Risk assessmentsImage: probation officer looking at OASys on computer

The risk assessment considers how likely the offender is to reoffend, how serious the impact of the potential offence would be and the risk of harm the offender poses. We use an electronic system called OASys to assess the level of risk they pose and the offender manager meets with the offender to discuss this.

There are four levels to show the risk of harm each offender poses:

Low: there are no significant or current indicators to show the offender is likely to cause harm.

Medium: there are some indicators to show the offender has the potential to cause harm, but is not likely to do so unless there is a change in circumstances. For example, this could be failure to take medication, loss of accommodation, drug or alcohol misuse.

High: there are indicators to suggest the offender could cause serious harm.

Very high: there are indicators that the offender is more likely than not to cause serious harm.

The risk assessment is regularly reviewed throughout their sentence, whether they are in prison or being supervised in the community. The review takes into consideration information from probation staff and staff in other agencies who have worked with the offender. Where available, it also looks at information provided by the victim liaison officer and the police.

Once the risk has been assessed, a plan is drawn up to manage and reduce the risk. If the risk assessment changes, the risk management plan will also need to change.

Risk management plans

The risk management plan starts with the risk assessment for the individual offender. It identifies the actions and objectives needed to manage that risk. There are clearly identified tasks and timescales. It also states who is responsible for each action, as some may be for other agencies, not just the probation service.

The plans are very flexible and are regularly reviewed so they can deal with changing circumstances.

The offender manager will discuss the plan with the offender. Their may be some actions the offender has to complete. This might include a curfew, or a restriction from going to certain places or taking part in certain activities.

Some offenders are managed through the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). Risk management plans are an important part of MAPPA and are discussed at MAPPA meetings.

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