Critically evaluate the achievements of the Multi-Agency Public Protection
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Critically evaluate the achievements of the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). The issue of how the public should be protected from the most dangerous offenders has been highly debated since the early 1970s. Public protection has been high on the Government's agenda for many years and is now a formally stated aim of the National Probation Service. This essay will discuss the developments of risk assessments and management systems within the National Probation Service and particularly focussing on MAPPA. The main focus of the essay will present the findings of various studies of multi agency risk assessments and risk management procedures aimed at protecting the public from dangerous offenders. The essay will then discuss two high profile murder cases and conclude with a general evaluation of MAPPA. The debate regarding Public protection became apparent in the early 1970s when a publicised case involving a mentally ill patient called for stronger preventative methods. This case involved Graham Young who had been committed to a mental hospital after poisoning members of his family. After his release he went on to commit murders using the same method. This case made it clear there was a need for longer prison sentences for those who posed the greatest risk to the public. These proposals met objections especially from Criminologists who claimed this would threaten the basic principles of justice (Radzinowicz and Hood 1981). Despite these objections preventative methods grew during the 1980s. Parole was eventually restricted for sexual and serious violent offenders in 1983. The Criminal Justice Act 1991 which was originally to emphasise due process, fairness, consistency and proportionality was rapidly swayed by public opinion towards controlling those who commit crime (Hudson 2001). Longer sentences were now allowed on the grounds of public protection. During the1980s there were concerns about dangerous offenders coming out of prison and how they were to be managed in the community. There was a growing recognition of 'risk management' as part of the core business of the Probation Service (Kemshall 1998: Kemshall and Maguire 2001).
One of the factors that distinguished cluster 3 from the others was the higher probability of mental health disorders, personality disorder, self harm and/or substance misuse. It was apparent from this study that the profile of level 3 offenders was a complex one with multiple risks. Wood (2007) states that this indicates that a vast amount of violent offenders were most likely to present with emotional instability. These findings highlight the importance of psychiatric and psychologists input at MAPPA meetings. However many meetings are still not receiving the full benefit of these agencies. This could be due to the fact that mental health services are reluctant about sharing information and the issues of patient confidentiality. The findings also demonstrated the need for offence specific assessment tools to ensure a more thorough assessment of offenders who commit sexual, generic violence or domestic violence offences. Although The Offender Assessment System (OASys, 2001) used by the Probation and Prison service has been hailed as 'probably the most advanced tool for this purpose in the world' (Her Majesty's Inspection Report, 2006:69). It does not however enable a detailed assessment of specific offence types. It also does not correspond well with other agencies' assessments. Next I will discuss the two high profile murders by released prisoners and examine the parole board's decision to release them, and the quality of supervision upon their release. Starting with the murder of Naomi Bryant in Winchester, by Anthony Rice. At the time of Ms Bryant's murder Rice was on a life licence after having served 16 years in prison, he had a history of sexual attacks including rape, attempted rape and other assaults. He was being supervised in the community by Hampshire Probation Area alongside a number of other agencies through MAPPA. Following the murder of Ms Bryant it was actually Hampshire MAPPA who requested an independent report. The report identified a number of substantial deficiencies in the way Rice had been managed before and after his release from prison.
This will allow efficient data sharing between the Responsible Authorities to reduce re-offending. What also must be commended on with regards to MAPPA just like all areas of Probation is their commitment to Anti Discriminatory Practice. Throughout its work MAPPA will be sensitive and responsive to people's differences and needs. It will integrate this understanding into the delivery of its functions to ensure that nobody is disadvantaged as a result of their belonging to a specific social group (MAPPA Guidance 2007). With regards to my experiences, as a Trainee Probation Officer I have not had any experience of dealing with MAPPA cases; however I spoke to an experienced Probation Officer who has had experience with MAPPA cases. He works in the Public Protection Unit and said he generally found MAPPA meetings harmonious and when it came to decision making everyone was generally in agreement. He did state that on a couple of occasions there were incidents when the Police did not want to disclose certain information about an offender as they did not feel it was necessary. This obviously caused problems within the meetings, however he generally felt that MAPPA was informative, helpful and felt that they were a success. For the benefit of this assignment I have also looked up three offenders who I was informed were being managed under MAPPA. I looked at the Delius entries (Probation IT System) and was very impressed. There was thorough and up to date information on there from Offender Managers, Hostel workers and other key people. All key information was logged on to the system such as correspondence with other external agencies, it clearly demonstrated how these offenders were being managed; the co-operation between key agencies and any problems were identified and dealt with quickly and efficiently such as recalls and breaches. Since the introduction of MAPPA they have undergone a lot of change and revision over time. There are still some inconsistencies between different areas and some lack of participation from key agencies such as psychology and mental health teams. However MAPPA does continue to learn from their experiences and evolve.
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