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Authorised Professional Practice

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This page is from APP, the official source of professional practice for policing.

First published
Written by College of Policing
Major investigation and public protection
13 mins read

Reviews take place once an investigation has been concluded and are a critical element of managing offenders. They are mechanisms to learn lessons and to identify both positive and negative aspects of individual and organisational activities and effectiveness.

Three types of review may be relevant to managing registered offenders.

  • Multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) serious case review (SCR).
  • Police internal management review (PIMR).
  • Other reviews such as a child-related SCR or domestic homicide review (DHR).

MAPPA serious case reviews

A MAPPA SCR will be commissioned by the strategic management board (SMB) if a registered offender who is managed under MAPPA is charged with a serious further offence (SFO) – such as a further violent or serious sexual offence. Appendix 6 of MAPPA provides a list of SFOs.

A MAPPA SCR includes due consideration of police involvement in a MAPPA management case.

Police internal management reviews

A PIMR reviews the police involvement in managing a registered offender who has committed an SFO. The review is commissioned by a detective inspector in the management of sexual or violent offenders (MOSOVO) unit.

The PIMR (or part of it) may form part of the MAPPA SCR, but a PIMR may be conducted regardless of whether or not a MAPPA SCR has been instigated. If the case is also subject to a MAPPA SCR, relevant sections of the PIMR report should be shared with the MAPPA SCR team, as agreed between senior management.

The purpose of the PIMR is to examine the factors surrounding the management of the registered offender, and to determine whether the police did all they could reasonably have done to reduce the risk of further offending. The review provides an opportunity to learn lessons to identify any necessary and proportionate change in practice or management approach that may be influential in preventing SFOs from taking place.

Where there is concern that further action could have been taken to prevent the registered offender from committing an SFO, the focus of the PIMR should be on the decisions made and the support and/or constraints on those decisions. People do not generally seek to make questionable decisions and the PIMR should aim to take a systems approach, looking carefully at the reasons why decisions were made and whether, taking account of the information known at the time the decision was made, a different outcome could have been achieved with a different approach.

Assessing standard practice

The aims of the PIMR are to establish whether there are lessons to be learnt, to identify what those lessons are and how they will be acted on. This information can then be incorporated in future registered offender policies and procedures to better protect the public. The PIMR also provides an opportunity to identify areas of good practice.

Senior officers are required to assess the standard of practice for each case that proceeds to a full PIMR. Where this standard is a cause for concern and staff appear to have not performed their duties in accordance with guidance, legislation or local policy, the senior officer should consider initiating appropriate performance and/or disciplinary procedures. They should, however, also consider whether the circumstances were such that staff were required to use discretion and professional judgement in place of strict adherence to guidance. The commission of a serious offence by a registered offender is not necessarily evidence of failures in decision making. People assessing decisions should be careful not to apply hindsight, but base judgements on what was known at the time the decisions were made.

In assessing the standards of performance, there should also be consideration of all of the issues that could have affected performance, such as workloads, adequacy of support, advice and guidance, any adverse incidents in an officer’s or staff member’s private life. The object of the exercise is to understand the causes of an event, rather than blame individuals. If, however, performance has fallen below an acceptable level, officers and staff should expect careful investigation of the reasons for this and to be held to account in appropriate cases.

Mandatory cases

Offender eligibility

If the following offenders commit an SFO listed below they will be eligible for review.

  • All registered sex offenders (RSOs).
  • Those managed at MAPPA levels 1, 2 and 3.
  • Young offenders (under 18) who receive a youth caution for a relevant offence.

Note: if the offender is managed at level 2 or 3, it is an automatic MAPPA SCR referral.

The SFO must be one of the following.

  • Murder.
  • Manslaughter.
  • Rape.
  • An attempt to commit any of the above offences.
  • An attempt to aid or abet any of the above offences.

Discretionary cases

The aims of a discretionary review are the same for a statutory review – to establish whether anything more could have been done to prevent an offender reoffending. The review should explore key decisions and, where any of those decisions are questionable with the benefit of hindsight, all of the issues that affected those decisions. Sometimes poor judgements will have been made. Sometimes there will be other matters that have affected the ability of an officer or member of staff to make the right decisions. It is likely that the latter types of circumstances will provide potential for organisational learning.

Practitioners consider that it is good practice to invoke a discretionary PIMR for:

  • RSOs (all MAPPA management levels) charged with other serious offences
  • cases where it would otherwise be in the public interest to undertake a review

In these cases, a supervising officer (of at least sergeant rank) from the police team responsible for managing the RSO should perform the initial PIMR. They should use the reoffending review form. In statutory cases, this would be a SCR.

The officer commissioning a review should set a reasonable time for the work to be completed, taking account of the seriousness of the case and the potential for learning to affect other current cases. The completed form should be sent to the team inspector or chief inspector.

They must also record whether the case has been properly managed in accordance with MAPPA SCRs set out in the MAPPA guidance, Home Office Violent and Sex Offender Register (ViSOR) Standards, force policies and relevant legislation, or whether it is a case that they believe requires further scrutiny and a full PIMR.

The initial PIMR form should also be used to provide evidence for decisions made about discretionary reviews.

Inspector or chief inspector to examine initial PIMR

The inspector or chief inspector should examine the initial PIMR and determine if there is a clear audit trail of risk assessment, risk management and decision making supported with a rationale.

Where any of these processes is found to be lower than the required standard, consideration should be given to the causes, for example whether the responsible person had adequate support.

The inspector or chief inspector should complete sections 4 and 5 on the initial PIMR form and send it to the force public protection lead (superintendent or above) within a reasonable time of receiving it. In the past, 15 days has been considered a reasonable time.

Discretionary cases that satisfy the initial PIMR

The force public protection lead (superintendent or above) should confirm that no further review is required and endorse the form within a reasonable time. In the past, 15 working days has been regarded as reasonable.

Where points of national learning have been identified, the form should then be forwarded to the staff officer of the national policing lead (NPL) and HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) Public Protection and Mental Health Group for information and monitoring.

The original should be returned to the supervising officer, who must ensure the ViSOR record is updated. The force should compile a database to monitor such cases.

Cases that may require a full PIMR

The force public protection lead should confirm whether a further review is required within a reasonable time of receiving it and, where a full review is considered necessary, instruct that a full PIMR should now take place. 15 working days has been viewed as reasonable in the past.

Staff who conduct a full PIMR should not be involved in managing the offender.


The full PIMR may include:

  • full ViSOR record inspection
  • reviewing MAPP meeting minutes, if relevant
  • assessing the quality of risk assessment and risk management
  • inspecting other internal/external databases
  • preparing a case chronology
  • interviewing staff
  • where relevant, workloads, advice, support, guidance and culture

The PIMR should also take into account the seriousness of the further offence, victim impact and public interest in the case. As a police investigation or other legal proceedings will be ongoing, the timing of any review has to be agreed with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to ensure that the legal process is not undermined in any way.

Material gathered during the PIMR may be subject to the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996. The disclosure officer must, therefore, be made aware of the existence of relevant documents.

Full PIMR report

This is an internal report. It should be completed on the standard full PIMR template within three months or other reasonable time from the identification of further offences (subject to CPS approval, see above).

It should summarise the key issues from the initial PIMR and the full PIMR. The public protection lead should set a reasonable deadline for completing the review, taking account of the complexity of the case and any other urgent, competing demands. This report should be endorsed by the force public protection lead when completed.

A copy of the report should be sent to the staff officer of the NPL for the management of sexual offenders and violent offenders, to the HMPPS Offender Management and Public Protection Group and circulated in force, as appropriate.

It should have a Government Security Classifications marking of at least OFFICIAL and the whole or part of the report may be exempt from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000 requests. Personal details will not be disclosed but general contents may be. Any requests for information made under FOIA 2000 in relation to this area must be referred to the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) central referral unit (CRU).

Officers should also be aware that while a review may not be disclosed in criminal proceedings, for example if the review has not been completed, it will be disclosable at a subsequent appeal, as part of disciplinary proceedings or as part of a civil case.

Some RSOs may also be under the supervision of the probation service, and some of the cases may involve safeguarding children boards or health trusts. Relevant sections of the PIMR report should be shared with such colleagues as agreed between senior management and depending on the context of the report, for example a child’s death or domestic death. The context should be stated in the terms of reference. This will ensure consistent sharing of police information with other review bodies.

Lessons learnt

The force must monitor all action plans, embed them into police procedures and update local policies appropriately. The force should notify NPCC for MOSOVO when the action plan has been completed. NPCC and HMPPS Offender Management and Public Protection Group (OMPPG) will disseminate relevant lessons learnt nationally and update MAPPA guidance as necessary.

PIMRs and SCRs are established operational review tools. Their purpose is to ensure that systems are adequate and fit for purpose, and identify approaches that need to change.

PIMR reoffending review form

Stage 1: Initial notification of reoffending
  • Date of reoffending notification (attach MAPPA Form N if appropriate).
  • RSO notification:
    • Last name
    • First name
    • Date of birth
    • ViSOR reference
Stage 2: Initial case review (ICR)
  • Details of supervising officer completing the ICR:
    • Name and rank of officer
    • Telephone number
    • Email address
  • ViSOR record inspection:
    • Date last seen by police prior to being arrested for this offence
    • Date last visited at home by police sex offender management unit
    • Date of any previous RSO reoffending review
    • Any MAPPA level change within three months of SFO charge: Has the RSO complied with the notification requirements?
    • Is the ViSOR record up to date? (for example visits, risk management plan (RMP), police national database, actions around intelligence)
    • Is the Offender Assessment System (OASys) assessment correct?
    • Is the RMP comprehensive and reflective of the risks?
    • Are other agencies involved in the case? If so, list and describe their involvement.
Stage 3: ICR supervision

Note: Once sections 1-3 have been completed, send this form to the team inspector/chief inspector.

  • Details of team inspector/chief inspector:
    • Name and rank of team inspector/chief inspector
    • Telephone number
    • Email address
  • Overall initial assessment:
    • Is the ViSOR record correctly supervised?
    • Does this case require further scrutiny? (explain reasons)
    • Date form passed to force public protection lead
Stage 4: Review by force public protection lead

Note: Once stage 3 has been completed, send this form to the force public protection lead.

  • Details of force public protection lead completing the ICR:
    • Name and rank
    • Telephone number
    • Email address
  • PIMR decision
    • Does this case require further scrutiny? (explain reasons)
    • Date decision made: if key learning is identified and/or the decision to conduct a PIMR is made, this form should be sent to the staff officer of the NPL for the management of sexual offenders and violent offenders, and to HMPPS–PPU.
Stage 5: Acknowledgement by HMPPS–PPU

Note: Any key learning should be identified for dissemination by the force public protection lead. Learning for specific duty to cooperate with agencies should be brought to their attention via the SMB.

  • Details of PPU contact:
    • Name of HMPPS–PPU contact
    • Telephone number
    • Email address
    • Date form sent to force public protection lead

Note: If a PIMR is completed, a copy of the full report should be forwarded to the staff officer of the NPL for the management of sexual offenders and violent offenders, and to HMPPS–PPU.

Note: Once stage 5 is completed, send this form to the force public protection lead.

Other reviews

SCRs and DHRs may be commissioned to explore reasons behind a serious or fatal incident where there are concerns about the involvement of one or more public sector organisations. While these reviews do not necessarily involve MOSOVO subjects, they sometimes do and will often offer opportunities for learning, whether or not a MOSOVO subject was involved.

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