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Policy in detail: Management of sex offenders

There are a number of laws and procedures in place to protect the public from known sex offenders. The relevant policies, legislation and guidance are kept under review, to ensure that they remain fit for purpose. Stakeholder feedback assists with this process.

Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)

Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements bring together the police, local authorities, Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and health boards as the Responsible Authorities, to jointly establish arrangements to assess and manage the risk posed by sex offenders and mentally disordered restricted patients. A number of other agencies are under a duty to co-operate with the Responsible Authorities.

The fundamental purpose of MAPPA is public safety and the reduction of serious harm. It gives a consistent approach to the management of relevant offenders across all local authority and police force areas, providing a framework for assessing and managing the risk posed by those offenders.

The agencies involved in MAPPA use a range of methods to manage offenders and reduce the risk of them committing further offences.

The management arrangements can include:

  • police visits and interviews
  • regular multi-agency meetings to share information, take action and reduce the risk of harm
  • ongoing reviews of the level of risk each offender poses
  • surveillance of high-risk offenders
  • treatment to reduce re-offending
  • recalling offenders to prison for any serious breach of the conditions of their release
  • providing supervised accommodation where offenders can be closely watched, tagged or put under an appropriate curfew
  • controlling how information about specific offenders is shared with the public or key community representatives

National guidance underpins the operation of MAPPA.

MAPPA annual reports are published by each Community Justice Authority which set out how the arrangements are working in those areas. The Scottish Government also publishes an annual national overview report on MAPPA in Scotland.

National Accommodation Strategy for Sex Offenders

A National Accommodation Strategy has been developed to assist with the management of sex offenders in the community.

Keeping Children Safe

Liaison with key stakeholders, including Police Scotland, has allowed for the delivery of important initiatives such as the Sex Offender Community Disclosure Scheme, Keeping Children Safe. This allows any member of the public to make an application to Police Scotland if they have a concern about a person’s access to a child.

Civil orders

There are four main types of civil orders which are designed to minimise the risk of sexual harm to the public from offenders:

  • Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO)
  • Risk of Sexual Harm Order (RSHO)
  • Notification Order (NO)
  • Foreign Travel Order (FTO)

These can be imposed by a court, where certain criteria are satisfied. An overview of each order is provided in the MAPPA guidance.

Satellite tracking of offenders

We are currently consulting on options for using GPS satellite technology to track the whereabouts of sex offenders.

Bills and legislation

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides the law to support the registration of sex offenders, and the restrictions and obligations that can be placed upon them. This is supplemented by the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005. Included in the provisions are a number of civil orders which can be used as risk management tools.

The Management of Offenders etc (Scotland) Act 2005 introduced the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) and placed a ‘duty to cooperate’ on a number of other agencies.

Further information