Freed inmates are not being placed on high levels of monitoring

Freed inmates are not being placed on high levels of monitoring when they return to community, watchdog warns

  • A watchdog said many criminals are not being monitored enough after prison
  • More than a fifth of cases were graded a level lower than they should have been
  • Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell raised a series of concerns in a report
  • An official said referrals for monitoring criminals after jail ‘just go into the ether’  

Thousands of dangerous offenders in the community are not being placed on high levels of monitoring, a watchdog warns today.

Chief inspector of probation Justin Russell raised a series of concerns about Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa), which see police, probation and other agencies manage serious criminals after they are freed from jail.

More than a fifth of cases examined by the chief inspector were graded at the lowest ‘Level 1’ when they should have been in ‘Level 2’, which involves far more intense supervision for sex offenders and violent criminals.

(Stock Image) Police, probation and other agencies manage serious criminals when they are freed from jail under Mappa. The watchdog said many offenders are not being monitored enough

Currently there are 86,000 cases at Level 1 – meaning the full number graded too low across England and Wales could run to thousands, Mr Russell said.

The report, published today, also found the way offenders are screened was ‘overly bureaucratic’. Mappa have previously been criticised for a string of failures in high-profile cases.

The report said: ‘The lack of focus on and scrutiny of probation-led Level 1 cases leads to unsatisfactory risk management in too many cases.’

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said it had ‘introduced a range of measures’ to ensure Mappa is being used as robustly as possible.  

One criminal justice official told inspectors: ‘We are lucky to get someone to Level 2. I don’t know who is at the screening panels, we’re not told. It just goes into the ether.

‘People tend to avoid Mappa at all costs. Referrals take forever to then be rejected and be told we can just do it ourselves.’

In all, 87,657 offenders were under Mappa arrangements in March this year, a 70 per cent increase over 10 years.

But the number of cases placed under the higher categories of monitoring have fallen.

In March, 156 offenders were on Level 3 – dubbed the ‘critical few’, assessed as being the most dangerous – down from 190 in 2011.

The number on Level 2 halved over the same period to 1,233.

‘We question in this report whether that proportion has actually fallen too low over that time,’ Mr Russell said.

He added that improvements were needed to the way Level 1 Mappa cases are handled and ‘should be a priority for the future’.

In some parts of the country, Level 1 status has ‘little meaning’, the report found.

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