Page last updated at 23:48 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 00:48 UK

High-risk offenders 'not managed'

Men in a prison cell
The study criticised how data was passed between prisons

Failures in assessing and managing the risk posed by violent or sex offenders have been highlighted in a new report.

It found the assessment of the risk of serious harm posed by such offenders was "poor or absent" in many cases.

The study also found evidence that when a high-risk offender came into custody, information about risk often did not reach the receiving prison.

The Scottish Government said public protection was "a continuous process" and offenders would always pose risks.

The study, commissioned by Scottish ministers, aimed to review the quality of pre and post release arrangements for offenders who posed a risk of serious harm to the public and identify ways to improve managing them.

It was conducted by the Social Work Inspection Agency, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons.

Much collaborative work is now in place to support improved, consistent standards across the country for supervising high-risk offenders
Kenny MacAskill
Justice Minister

The report identified variations across the country in how agencies worked together to assess and manage risk.

It found that social work planning for serious violent offenders was "generally of a poor standard", with two-thirds having no risk management content of any kind on record.

One third of the social work plans for sex offenders were deemed "not good enough".

The report found that the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa) had improved the management of sex offender risk.

However, other aspects of information sharing needed "significant improvement".

The electronic system, Visor, which shares key information about sex offenders between agencies, was effectively unusable in social work offices because it required such a high level of security for users, according to the report.

It also identified problems in how information was transferred between prisons.

National standards

The report set out 19 recommendations to the Scottish Government and other agencies.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "As the inspectors note, even when agencies work well to reduce risks posed by serious violent or sex offenders, such is the nature of these people that risk can't be fully eliminated.

"Public protection is a continuous process and the inspectors have outlined the key areas where we and our criminal justice partners can further strengthen processes - some of which we have been driving forward already since they undertook their local inspections.

"Much collaborative work is now in place to support improved, consistent standards across the country for supervising high-risk offenders, including robust testing of new methods of risk of harm assessment, and for further safeguarding communities.

"The report's findings and recommendations provide a benchmark against which the Scottish Government wants to see continuous improvement and progress measured, using the new scrutiny structures that we are setting up."

It set out 19 recommendations to the Scottish Government and other key agencies, including a call for national standards and guidelines for risk assessment practice.

The report said ministers, along with the National Police Improvement Agency, should also urgently address the reasons underlying the poor use of the Visor database.



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