Offender management system ‘making progress’

The number of serious offenders who broke their probation conditions has gone up the past year, but there are fewer committing serious offences, new figures show.

A review of the multi-agency public protection arrangements (Mapp) finds that of the 17,680 violent and sexual offenders monitored in the community last year, 1,540 breached their licence conditions, up 18 per cent on the previous year.

Today’s data shows there has also been an increase of more than three per cent in the number of registered sex offenders being monitored in the community, up from 28,994 to 29,973.

The Home Office said the increased number of licence breaches was a sign that action was being taken before offenders went on to commit more crimes.

Sixty-one per cent of these dangerous criminals were charged with another serious offence while being managed, a fall of 22.8 per cent on the year.

And although today’s review finds there are still causes for concern, it concludes the system makes a “real contribution to the management of dangerousness in communities”.

However, shadow home secretary David Davis said the figures raised questions about the government’s assessment of offenders for release in the first place, arguing they showed a “serious failure” by ministers to protect the public.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg noted: “Re-offending is much lower for those under the most stringent levels of supervision. We must therefore ask if we should extend these public protection measures wherever possible.”

The Home Office has come under fire for the way it manages dangerous offenders, after a number of high-profile attacks by those supposedly under supervision.

A report earlier this year warned of a “collective failure” in the management of Damian Hanson, who killed City financier John Monckton in his London home in November 2004 while being monitored.

Another probe into the murder of young mother Naomi Bryant by Anthony Rice, a convicted rapist, at her Winchester home last summer revealed a “cumulative failure” across the whole criminal justice system.

Terry Grange, chief constable of Dyfed-Powys police and a spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), acknowledged the concerns raised these cases but said today’s review showed progress was being made.

“It is impossible to ignore the tragic cases reported on this year which highlighted the need for improvements,” he said.

“But lessons are being learnt and significant work is being undertaken to improve the consistent delivery of the arrangements and the training of staff undertaking this complex and demanding work.”

Home Office minister Gerry Sutcliffe added: “Protecting the public is at the heart of the government’s priorities, and ensuring the effective management of the most dangerous offenders is a key part of our agenda.”