Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements are information and risk sharing procedures which are required by law, following the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
MAPPA is intended to ensure that potential risks posed by violent and / or sexual offenders are properly understood and managed as well as they can be to prevent further serious offending and re-offending. The Ministry of Justice issues guidance on MAPPA under s325(8) of the Act – Version Four of this statutory Guidance was published in 2012.
MAPPA arrangements “are designed to protect the public, including previous victims of crime, from serious harm by sexual and violent offenders.” but it is not an agency or organisation in itself, more a framework within which many organisations come together to jointly manage risks by sharing information.
WHO IS INVOLVED IN MAPPA?
MAPPA involves two types of agency:
- The Three “Responsible Authorities” – Police, Prisons, Probation
- Various “Duty To Cooperate” Agencies – inc Housing, Health (child / adult) inc Mental Health, Education Services (for juveniles), Employment Services, Youth Offending Teams, Electronic monitoring services.
The relevance of MAPPA to mental health is that s325(3) identifies those services as “Duty To Cooperate” agencies and s327 identifies MAPPA eligible offenders as including mentally disordered offenders (of a certain kind, see below). It is incumbent upon all statutory agencies that they have systems in place to ensure eligible offenders are promptly identified within three days of being imprisoned or admitted to hospital; that information is appropriately shared; and that risk assessment leads to a risk management plan being developed.
So for example, if Nottingham Crown Court imposed a restricted hospital order upon a patient who was then admitted a a psychiatric unit in Birmingham, the hospital would have a duty to identify to the West Midlands MAPPA Co-ordinator that someone who was ‘MAPPA eligible’ had been admitted. If upon release from hospital the person stayed in Birmingham, then West Midlands MAPPA arrangements would manage the risks and threats. If the person moved back to Nottingham upon release, the West Midlands MAPPA co-ordinator would transfer the case back there.
WHAT KIND OF MENTALLY DISORDERED OFFENDERS ARE ELIGIBLE?
Not all sexual and / or violent offenders have to be managed by MAPPA arrangements. It is only when the seriousness of the offence passes a certain threshold that these legalities kick in. The following offenders MUST be subject to MAPPA arrangements:
- Convicted of specified sexual or violent offence – such offences are listed in Schedule 15 CJA; AND
- Sentenced to 12 months custody OR sent to hospital by court subject to s37 MHA 1983, with or without restrictions under s41; OR
- Section 45 or 47 MHA prisoners ; OR
- Other dangerous offenders under s3 or “Notional s37” with previous relevant convictions.
So you will see from the above, that this has a potentially serious implication for Liaison and Diversion. If someone is arrested for an offence and they are diverted away from the criminal justice system before being sentenced, they can never be subject to MAPPA arrangements around the management of risks. You may think this is a good thing, because it avoid the necessity of a vulnerable person being subject to the stigma of MAPPA management.
However, consider a real example: an offender who was arrested for a serious offence committed whilst extremely unwell. The offender was so unwell, in fact, that they were admitted directly to a medium secure unit under s3 of the Mental Health Act having been unable to be interviewed about the offence because of an urgent need for treatment without consent. The CPS lawyer who subsequently took a view that the man should not be prosecuted because they has already been admitted to a medium secure facility to receive necessary treatment for the florid psychosis being suffered at the time was then denying the potential of MAPPA to protect the public.
This of course would mean, that if the man were released from hospital, there would potentially be no joint planning to mitigate risks and threats. However, any prosecution leading to a conviction would undoubtedly lead to a sentence longer than 12 months OR to a restricted hospital order and therefore to MAPPA arrangements.
Obviously, information sharing between agencies is key and MAPPA arrangements themselves came about in part because there were some notorious examples of public services not sharing relevant risk information to protect the public. “The purpose of sharing information about individuals is to enable the relevant agencies to work more effectively together in assessing risks and considering how to manage them. This points towards sharing all the available information that is relevant, so that nothing is overlooked and public protection is not compromised.”
Whilst MAPPA was a very new concept, professionals and agencies struggled with information sharing. The existence of MAPPA and its legal significance does not allow carte blanche exchange of information. The guidance states very clearly that all information sharing must still be legal in its own right. So for example, a psychiatrist who attends MAPPA should not be sharing with the other professionals any medical or confidential information that they would not be prepared to share by picking up the phone to the police or the Probation Service because they had concerns.
LEVELS OF MAPPA
In all areas there are regular MAPPA meetings. The frequency of it is determined locally, dependent upon the number of offenders being managed. About five years ago, I was an inspector in charge of an intelligence / offender management office and I line managed the sexual and violent ‘offender managers’. All MAPPA cases were broken down into three levels, the lowest being offenders subject to sole agency management by the police. For example, if an offender had committed an offence at the less serious end of the MAPPA spectrum and had for several years been monitored without concern about re-offending, these ‘offender managers’ would ensure regular contact and monitoring, they would visit the offenders at a frequency determined by their inspector and there would be a formal review about the monitoring arrangements as frequently as the inspector deemed necessary. This would often be every three or six months.
For more serious offenders where there is a suggestion of re-offending or where there is intelligence about risks of offending, there would be a discussion in the regular MAPPA meeting where level 2 and level 3 cases were discussed. Within these confidential meetings, relevant agencies would discuss cases and jointly determine how to mitigate risks. This could include, for example, the police sharing intelligence about offending with mental health services who could bear that information in mind when doing home visits or clinical supervision. It could include mental health services sharing concerns they had arising from their work, which might need police or probation input. In some cases, concerns about offending could lead to the police undertaking surveillance, for example.
Within MAPPA, victims have rights to know when offenders are to be released (from prison / hospital) and whether or not there are any conditions being imposed upon the individual. They have a right to know when any imposed conditions cease.