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The integration of academic, practitioner and offender knowledge to deliver excellence in the multi-agency risk management of violent and sexual offenders in the community

This research examines the effectiveness of Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Dr Natalie Mann; Dr Samantha Lundrigan
Police region
Collaboration and partnership

Project requested by MAPPA responsible authority and national steering group, Ministry of Justice.

Level of research
Professional/work based
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

Introduced in England and Wales under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act, 2000, Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) were specifically designed to improve and strengthen the monitoring of convicted sexual and violent offenders in the community.

Under the MAPPA framework, the Police, the National Probation Service and the Prison Service, along with other agencies who have a 'duty to cooperate', are legally required to work together to monitor and manage the risk posed by such offenders (MAPPA, 2018).

Currently, the number of offenders in England and Wales subject to MAPPA stands at 80,983, representing a 7% annual increase since 2009 (Ministry of Justice, 2018). This year on year increase in caseload is set against a backdrop of substantial cuts to the public protection budget, brought about as a result of government austerity programmes (Crawford and others, 2015).

Given this, the importance of a holistic, evidence-based understanding of the effectiveness of the MAPPA framework as a practitioner tool for reducing reoffending has never been more acute. However, past research into the efficacy of MAPPA is both limited in scope and somewhat outdated. The aim of the proposed research is to provide a comprehensive analysis of the process and outcome effectiveness of MAPPA in order to improve practice in the management of sexual and violent offenders in the community.

Whilst previous studies have aided our understanding of MAPPA, they have done so with a singular focus, using exclusively qualitative or quantitative data. Within this research project, we propose to take a holistic approach and investigate both the process effectiveness and practitioner-service user's experiences of the framework, as well as examining the effect which MAPPA has on the reoffending rates of those it manages.

Aim, Research Questions and Objectives

The aim of the proposed research is to provide a comprehensive analysis of the process and outcome effectiveness of MAPPA in order to improve practice in the management of sexual and violent offenders in the community. In order to achieve our aim, we have designed two complimentary and overlapping work packages (WP) that integrate practitioner, academic and offender knowledge.

This integration of perspectives, knowledge and experience is key in terms of validity and triangulation and in terms of 'ownership' for enhanced potential for impact on policy and practice.

Work package one (WP1)

Reoffending patterns of MAPPA eligible offenders in England and Wales
The aim of WP1 is to examine reoffending rates for MAPPA eligible offenders in England and Wales and estimate the effect of MAPPA on reducing reoffending rates for all categories of offenders. We will also investigate the reoffending rates of category 1 offenders (registered sexual offenders) since the implementation of a new risk management tool (ARMS).

Specifically, we will address two main research questions:

  1. What overall effect does MAPPA have on the reoffending rates of all category offenders?
  2. What effect has the implementation of the ARMS (Active Risk Management System) tool had on reoffending rates of category 1 MAPPA offenders (that is, registered sexual offenders)?

Work package two (WP2)

The integration of practitioner and offender knowledge to inform best practice in MAPPA delivery

The aim of WP2 is to integrate practitioner and offender knowledge to consider the most effective use of MAPPA under different delivery models and for different types of user. 

Specifically, we will ask the following research question:

  1. How can MAPPA most effectively deliver excellence in public protection?

Research methodology

Work package one – reoffending patterns of MAPPA eligible offenders in England and Wales

In order to investigate reoffending rates for all MAPPA eligible offenders in England and Wales and estimate the effect of MAPPA on reducing reoffending, the Police National Computer (PNC) held at the Ministry of Justice will be utilised in order to gather data on all category 1 (registered sexual offenders) and category 2 (violent offenders sentenced to more than 12 months) MAPPA eligible offenders.

Data on level 3 offenders (Other dangerous offenders who do not qualify under category 1 or 2 but have been assessed as posing a risk of serious harm) is not held centrally and as such, requests will be sent to the Heads of Public Protection in each of the 43 Police forces in order to acquire the necessary data.

A cohort of offenders from time 1 (2010 to 2018) will form the main sample. This cohort has been selected because it represents a time period when there were no major legislative changes to MAPPA eligible offences, therefore individuals in the chosen cohort would have been subject to the same requirements.

A cohort of offenders from time 2 (1998 to 2000) will form the comparison group, which will consist of offenders who would have been eligible for MAPPA management had MAPPA been in use.

1998 has been selected as the earliest possible time frame before the implementation of MAPPA because a number of legislative changes (The Sex Offenders Act, 1997; The Crime and Disorder Act, 1998) which impacted on sexual and violent offenders had mostly been implemented by this year (Peck, 2011).

Across both samples proven reoffending rates for general offending and serious further offending over a two-year period will be calculated and compared in order to investigate whether MAPPA management has an effect on the reoffending rates of eligible offenders. 

Proven reoffending rates over a five-year period will also be calculated for the first sample in order to provide baseline data on longer term reoffending rates of MAPPA eligible offenders. 

No comparison can be made with the second sample, as the control sample covers two years only.

Work package two – the integration of practitioner and offender knowledge to inform best practice in MAPPA delivery

In order to investigate the most effective use of MAPPA under different delivery models and for different types of user, we will design and administer Delphi-style questionnaires to police practitioners in all 43 forces, Probation practitioners across all 7 divisions and MAPPA managers across the 42 Criminal Justice areas to discover to what extent they agree or disagree with a number of 'best practice' statements.

Rather than revising these with the same group of participants (as per Delphi method), these statements will instead be taken forward into focus groups made up of different practitioners, where they will be examined in more depth. Data will be primarily analysed using descriptive statistics such as measures of central tendencies and levels of dispersion.

Using the data collected from above, five case study areas across England and Wales will be selected. Focus groups with police practitioners, probation practitioners and MAPPA managers from these five areas will be conducted in order to develop the findings from the Delphi questionnaires and investigate practitioner's experiences of the MAPPA process and the effect it has on case progression.

Within the same five areas, in-depth interviews will be conducted with a sample of registered sexual offenders in order to investigate their understanding of the MAPPA process and the impact MAPPA management has on their lives. Data will be analysed thematically using a mixture of inductive and deductive coding using Nvivo.

A sample of MAPPA meetings across the five case study areas will be attended in order to make observations on the MAPPA process. This sample will include all category MAPPA offenders.

MAPPA serious case review data which is available from 2015 onwards will also be analysed in order to identify key areas of weakness and investigate areas of improvement. Data will again be thematically analysed using Nvivo.

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