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Northumbria Probation Area

Image: Probation & police staff with prolific offenderspacerNational Probation Service logo


Prolific and other Priority Offenders (PPO)

Theft from shops – burglary – criminal damage – assault

Research shows that 10% of offenders are responsible for 50% of recorded crimes. These offenders need extra help and support if they are to stop offending.

The Prolific and other Priority Offenders scheme (PPO) is a partnership between probation, police, local councils and other community organisations. It targets these most prolific offenders. And it works. There has been a 62% reduction in arrests amongst offenders involved with PPO over a two year period.

Which offenders are targeted

Offenders are identified for PPO because of their previous criminal record. Many have a long history of offending, with 30 or 40 convictions. They must have at least 6 convictions in the last 12 months. The type of offences is prioritised for seriousness, and schemes can focus on local priorities, such as burglary.

PPO supervision and support

Offenders are supervised by a team which includes a probation officer and a police officer.

When offenders first come onto a PPO scheme, their lifestyle is often very chaotic. So we visit them at home. At first the offender needs a lot of support and contact time, and we will see them four times a week. Work starts by tackling the most immediate issues. This might include helping offenders with:

Sometimes the offenders have previously struggled to access help even when it is available. So PPO officers go with them to their appointments for the first few weeks. This helps them to overcome any barriers and start working on their problems.

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Moving forward

After a while of being on the scheme, offenders will usually become more stable. Then it is possible for other work to begin. This can include other requirements of their community order, education and training schemes or additional drugs or alcohol treatment. Many local housing providers will also support offenders in maintaining their tenancies.

PPO is tough and it takes time. Often there will be short spells of progress followed by a lapse. This is often associated with drug abuse and offending. When this happens, offenders are fast tracked back to court.

PPO looks to build on the periods of success so that with time offenders’ lapses become less frequent and less serious.

As the community order comes to an end, the team will help offenders access other local support services on a voluntary basis. This helps them to make strong local contacts so they can continue in their new lifestyle and not reoffend.

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