Publication - Advice and guidance

Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA):national guidance 2016

Published: 3 Mar 2016
Safer Communities Directorate
Part of:
Law and order

Ministerial guidance to responsible authorities on the discharge of their obligations under section 10 of the Management of Offenders etc. (Scotland) Act 2005.

Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA):national guidance 2016
17. Visor (The Violent and Sex Offender Database)

17. Visor (The Violent and Sex Offender Database)

17.1 This section explains how ViSOR facilitates the sharing of information as the information management system used under MAPPA.

17.2 ViSOR is the agreed system used by MAPPA to facilitate the secure exchange and storage of information in accordance with this guidance and under the duty to cooperate, both of which are underpinned by section 10 of the Management of Offenders etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 (the 2005 Act).


17.3 ViSOR provides a central store for up-to-date information about offenders that can be accessed and updated by the Responsible Authorities.

17.4 ViSOR is a Home Office system that operates in other UK jurisdictions and is potentially a vital component for any cross-border transfer discussions. In addition to the responsible authorities in Scotland, it is used in England and Wales by police, Probation Trusts and Prison Service. ViSOR is also used in Jersey and Northern Ireland, and by the British Transport Police and the Royal Military Police.

17.5 The benefits of using ViSOR are:

  • Provision of a secure database enabling the safe retention and prompt sharing of sensitive risk management information on individual offenders who are deemed to pose a risk of serious harm to the public.
  • Capacity to share intelligence, and facilitation of the safe transfer of key information when relevant offenders move between areas.
  • That it acts as a central store for the minutes of MAPPA meetings.
  • Production of consistent management information to support the strategic oversight and management of the MAPPA arrangements in Scotland, informing consideration of effective performance and contributing to improved working practices.
  • Provides the information for MAPPA annual reports.

17.6 As the primary means of facilitating sharing of information under section 10 of the 2005 Act, effective ViSOR usage within MAPPA areas should be regularly reviewed within Strategic Oversight Group meetings.

Handling ViSOR Data

17.7 The collective information held on ViSOR is classified under the Government Secure Classifications Scheme as OFFICIAL - SENSITIVE. This classification requires certain security measures to be implemented and adhered to by ViSOR users.

17.8 As ViSOR is an OFFICIAL - SENSITIVE application, requests under the Data Protection Act 1998 for information contained within it, such as Subject Access Requests, are unlikely to be granted, however these must still be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the legislation.

17.9 Similarly, requests to MAPPA Areas under Freedom of Information legislation should be carefully considered as ViSOR contains confidentially-graded information such as active police and prison intelligence. To disclose such information could adversely affect police and prison activity and potentially put the safety of the public (including victims) at risk.

17.10 Nominal record owners should be mindful that individual agencies retain ownership of ViSOR data supplied by their organisation. Therefore, record owners should ensure that they do not share information owned by other ViSOR users without consultation.


17.11 All MAPPA offenders should be entered on ViSOR, including those offenders currently serving custodial sentences.

17.12 All live ViSOR records will be actively and accurately maintained and updated by the lead agency, record managers and relevant partners.

17.13 Further information regarding the national standards for management of offenders on ViSOR can be found in the Scottish and UK ViSOR Standards Documents.

Archiving Arrangements

17.14 When a ViSOR nominal ceases to be an active MAPPA case, it will be archived. This means that the information will remain within ViSOR and, if necessary, can be re-activated. The nominal record will be retained until the 100th anniversary of the individual's birth. At this point, it will then be reviewed and, in most cases, will be removed from ViSOR.

17.15 The period for which an offender remains subject to MAPPA varies. Some could be subject to MAPPA for life, others for less than 6 months. The period will depend on the individual case.

Support and Further Guidance

17.16 For further information on ViSOR use, guidance is available in the ViSOR Handbook, UK National Standards and Scottish National Standards, copies of which can be obtained from ViSOR National Systems Support ( NSS).

17.17 NSS is a dedicated team within Police Scotland funded by the Scottish Government and is responsible for the overall management and administration of the ViSOR system in Scotland. NSS also provides key support and training to promote effective use of the system by the responsible authorities.

17.18 NSS can be contacted at:

National Systems Support ViSOR
Police Scotland
Clyde Gateway
2 French Street
G40 4EH

Tel: 01786 896570