Publication - Advice and guidance

Community Payback Order: practice guidance

Published: 25 Jan 2019

This updated guidance replaces 'National outcomes and standards for social work services in the criminal justice system: community payback order practice guidance' issued in 2010.

Community Payback Order: practice guidance
7. Risk Assessment

7. Risk Assessment

The frequency of contact and levels of supervision will vary according to the nature of the Community Payback Order (CPO) requirements imposed on the individual, and will reflect the intensity of input required to manage and address the issues associated with the individual's offending, in line with the Risk Management Authority's Framework for Risk Assessment, Management and Evaluation.

Individuals subject to a CPO with an offender supervision requirement should be seen at least weekly in the first four weeks by the responsible officer[4] (appointed under section 227C of the 1995 Act). Further types of contact can be by various means including office contacts, home visits, contact with other agencies, telephone contact, letters, use of texts etc., but this will essentially be informed by the assessed risk and the individual's circumstances. Where home visits are required as part of the management of the CPO, all staff must adhere to their local authority's safe working practices.

In most cases where an offender supervision requirement has been imposed as part of the CPO, an initial analysis of the individual's offending - which considers the pattern, nature, seriousness, likelihood and imminence of offending - will have been carried out at the Criminal Justice Social Work Report (CJSWR) stage.

A fuller risk/needs assessment and analysis of the individual's offending will be required in every case where an offender supervision requirement has been imposed, whether the requirement was informed by a CJSWR or not. This fuller assessment, using a validated tool such as LS/CMI (Level of Service Case Management Inventory) should be completed (by a trained practitioner) within 4 weeks of the requirement being imposed. In the event that the responsible officer, in consultation with their line manager, considers that the assessment does not adequately reflect the level of risk posed, the professional override feature of LS/CMI may be used. A clear rationale and supporting evidence must be provided and recorded in case records.

Risk assessment should be used to help inform the main elements of the case management plan, including the level of supervision necessary to support rehabilitation. Supervision levels should be considered as:-

  • Very high intensity
  • High intensity
  • Medium intensity
  • Low intensity

Very high intensity - Individuals should be seen by the responsible officer at least once a week and there should be up to 7 contacts per week with other staff or partners. Contact should include arranged and unannounced home visits with due care to the safety of staff to be informed by the assessment and review process. The levels of contact, along with the overall case management plan, should be reviewed at least every 3 months. The frequency of reviews should remain at least at 3 monthly intervals for as long as very high intensity levels of contact are in place.

High intensity - Individuals should be seen by the responsible officer at least once per week and there should be up to 3 contacts per week with other staff or partners. Contact should include planned and unannounced visits with due care to the safety of staff to be determined by the assessment and review process. The frequency of reviews, where the level of contact is reviewed, should remain at 3 monthly intervals for as long as high intensity levels of contact are in place.

Medium intensity - Individuals should be seen by the responsible officer once per week and this should be reviewed after the first 3 months. Contact may then be reduced to once per fortnight where an individual's circumstances and level of risk is assessed as stable. This would then be reviewed after a further 6 month period. Contact should include at least one planned or unannounced home visit between reviews.

Therefore where an individual requires a medium level of intensity, departmental reviews should be held 3 months after the imposition of the CPO, and if circumstances remain stable, at 9 months after the imposition of the CPO and 6 monthly thereafter.

Low intensity - Where a court imposes a CPO in such circumstances, there should be one contact per week with the responsible officer for the first month, reducing to monthly contact thereafter. The overall case management plan, along with levels of contact, should be reviewed every 6 months. Should the review process determine that outcomes sought in relation to public safety, rehabilitation and reintegration have been sustained and evidenced, consideration should be given to application for early discharge following completion of unpaid work or the final payment of compensation, where applicable.

Where particular circumstances indicate that the level of contact differs from that outlined above, this should be discussed with the responsible officer's line manager and appropriate action taken as required.

Home Visits

Contact with the individual at home can assist the process of gathering and verifying information - either for an initial assessment at the CJSWR stage or for ongoing assessment and evaluation of progress during the period of supervision. In domestic abuse cases where a victim is resident with the person responsible for the abuse, it is good practice to contact the agency supporting the victim prior to making a home visit. In general, where the individual lives with others, home visits to assess the nature of the individual's relationship with family members and/or others can help to establish:

  • whether the other person's or persons' attitudes and beliefs or own involvement in offending behaviour are contributing to the individual's involvement in offending (for example, by reinforcing pro-offending attitudes or engaging in substance misuse);
  • whether any significant family relationships have broken down, or are at risk of breaking down, as a consequence of the individual's involvement in offending behaviour (however, great care should be taken to ensure that victims of domestic abuse do not interpret this as pressure to provide support to an abusive partner or remain in an abusive situation);
  • the potential (ability and willingness) of these others to engage with, and be involved in helping the individual move away from offending; and
  • if there are any child protection or adult protection concerns (which must then be promptly addressed).

Contact

Email: Community Payback Orders - General Enquiries