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1.4.32 Risks Posed by People with Convictions Against Children

A good indicator of future risk is past behaviour and, therefore, where persons with convictions for offences against children come into contact with children, an assessment should be made of the risk posed.


Home Office Circular 2005 Guidance on offences against children


This chapter was updated in February 2016. Section 7.6, Referral Process was updated in line with local practice, and that section should be re-read.


  1. Relevant Offences
  2. Assessing Risk
  3. Factors to Consider
  4. Management of Convicted Sex Offenders
  5. Concerns about People Suspected of Offences
  6. Exchanging Information about Dangerous People
  7. MAPPA and Potentially Dangerous Person

1. Relevant Offences

The terms ‘Schedule One Offender’ and ‘Schedule One Offence’ have been commonly used for anyone convicted of an offence against a child listed in Schedule One of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. However, a conviction for an offence in Schedule One does not trigger any statutory requirement in relation to child protection issues; inclusion within the definition of Schedule One Offender was determined solely by the age of the victim and the offence for which the offender was sentenced, and not by an assessment of future risk of harm to children.

For this reason, the terms Schedule One offence and Schedule One Offender are no longer used and have been replaced by references to Risk to Children Offenders. This clearly indicates that the person has been identified as presenting a risk, or potential risk, to children.

In relation to offenders, Home Office Guidance (‘Guidance on offences against Children’, Home Office Circular 16/2005) explains how those who present a risk to children should be identified. The circular explains that the present method of automatically identifying as a risk to children an offender who has been convicted of a Schedule One offence fails to focus on those who continue to present a risk.

The new list of offences contained in the circular (which can be used to identify those who present a risk, or potential risk, to children) should operate as a trigger to a further assessment to determine if an offender should be regarded as presenting a continued risk of harm to children. 

Once an individual has been sentenced and identified as presenting a risk to children, agencies have a responsibility to work collaboratively to monitor and manage the risk of harm to others. Where the offender is given a community sentence, offender managers have responsibility for monitoring the individual’s risk to others and their behaviour, and liaising with partner agencies as necessary.

Where such an offender is known to be, or is suspected of being, in contact with a child or children now, or in the immediate future, a referral should be made to Children's Social Care in accordance with the Referrals Procedure, and consideration should be given to the making of enquiries under these procedures to determine whether any protective action should be taken. The following guidance is supplementary to those sections.

2. Assessing Risk

Only an analysis of the context and seriousness of the offence(s) linked to an analysis of the current circumstances will enable professionals to make a valid assessment of risk.

It must be noted that professionals can only look at the known facts. Speculation as to the reasons and circumstances of any plea, are generally unsafe. Similarly, reliance upon the type of offence for which someone is convicted is not necessarily a reliable indicator of its seriousness. 

3. Factors to Consider

When undertaking an assessment it is important to consider a number of factors.

These will include:

  • The date of the offence;
  • The age of the perpetrator in relation to the victim;
  • The type of offence;
  • The degree of coercive or threatening behaviour;
  • The pattern of offending;
  • The circumstances of the offence;
  • Any subsequent assessments of risk;
  • The offender’s attitude to the offence.

4. Management of Convicted Sex Offenders

The Sex Offenders Act 1997 introduced the requirement for people convicted of certain sex offences to register with the Police. All such people are subject to the MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements) process governed by an inter-agency protocol drawn up by Northumbria Police and Probation Services.

The MAPPA process necessarily dovetails into these procedures. It is designed to support these procedures; however it should not hinder or delay the application of necessary protective action where required in specific cases.

5. Concerns about People Suspected of Offences

These must be addressed with caution. However, a lack of conviction for a criminal offence does not necessarily mean that a response under these procedures or through the civil courts is inappropriate.

In such cases legal and professional advice should be sought.

In some civil cases, e.g. Care Proceedings, findings of fact have been made and should be responded to as if there was a conviction.

6. Exchanging Information about Dangerous People

It is important for all agencies to be clear about the need and the reasons for exchanging information about people considered to be a risk to children. Unless exceptional circumstances apply, the subject of the information should be informed of the intention to share. For detailed guidance, see Information Sharing and Confidentiality Procedure.

It is not the transfer of information itself which protects children, but the assessment and action which that information enables. Therefore, it is important that information is full enough to enable effective analysis and assessment to take place.

When a decision is taken to transfer information about a person who is considered to be dangerous, this should include:

  • Personal details, i.e. full name, date of birth, relevant addresses;
  • Details of the offender, type of offence and date;
  • Details of sentence (if applicable);
  • Victim details, i.e. full name, date of birth, relationship to offender;
  • Current relevance of the offence, including known or likely contact with children.

This will enable those undertaking a Section 47 Enquiry to have access to the full facts so that the decision-making process can operate effectively.

7. MAPPA and Potentially Dangerous Person

See also: MAPPA Guidance 2012.

7.1 Introduction

The Criminal Justice and Court Services Act (2000) established the MAPPA and placed them on a statutory basis. The Criminal Justice Act (2003) re-enacted and strengthened those provisions.

The legislation requires the Police, Prison and Probation Providers (acting jointly as the 'Responsible Authority') in each of the 42 areas of England and Wales:

  • To establish arrangements for assessing and managing the risks posed by sexual and violent offenders;
  • To review and monitor the arrangements;
  • As part of the reviewing and monitoring arrangements, to prepare and publish an annual report on their operation.

A range of other agencies have also been placed under a duty to co-operate with the Responsible Authority. These include:

  • Local Authority Children's Safeguarding Services;
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups, other NHS Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities;
  • Jobcentres Plus;
  • Youth Offending Services;
  • Registered Social Landlords which accommodate MAPPA offenders;
  • Local Housing Authorities;
  • Local Education Authorities;
  • Electronic Monitoring providers;
  • Home Office Immigration Enforcement.

7.2 Who is managed under MAPPA?

There are three categories of violent and sexual offenders that are managed through MAPPA:

  • Registered Sex Offenders who are required to notify the police of their name, address and other personal details, under the terms of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The length of the registration period is set by the courts when the offender is sentenced. It might be for anything from 12 months to life, depending on the age of the offender, the age of the victim and the nature of the offence;
  • Violent offenders and some sex offenders who are not required to register. They will all have served 12 months or more in custody and are now living in the community subject to licence conditions, supervised by probation;
  • Other dangerous offenders who pose a risk of serious harm to the public. They will have committed an offence in the past which shows they are capable of causing serious harm and also their current behaviour gives cause for concern.

7.3 Management of MAPPA Offenders

There are 3 levels of management:

Level 1: Used in cases where the risks posed by the offender can be managed by the agency responsible for the supervision/case management of the offender. This does not mean that other agencies will not be involved; only that it is not considered necessary to refer the case to a level 2 or 3 MAPP meeting. Level 1 management can only be used for Category 1 and 2 offenders.

It is essential that information sharing takes place and there are multi-agency risk management discussions, as necessary.

Level 2: Used in cases where the risk is assessed as posing a significant risk of serious harm. This will generally be those assessed as posing a high or very high risk of causing serious harm, but this does not mean all cases assessed as high or very high risk will automatically require level 2 management. In addition there may be a small number of cases with a lower risk level where, due to other factors, the case requires this level of management and

Requires active involvement and co-ordination of interventions from other agencies to manage the presenting risks of harm; or

Has been previously managed at level 3 and the seriousness of risk has diminished, and/or the complexity of the multi-agency management of the risks have been brokered, and a MAPPA Risk Management Plan for level 2 has been firmly established.

Level 3: Where it is determined that the management issues require active conferencing and senior representation from the Responsible Authority and Duty to Cooperate agencies. This may be when there is a perceived need to commit significant resources at short notice and/or where there are significant media and/or public interest issues.

The criteria for referring a case to Level 3 MAPP meeting are where the offender is assessed under being a high or very high risk of causing serious harm, however, this does not mean all cases assessed as high or very high risk will automatically require Level 3 management. In addition there may be a small number of cases with a lower risk level where, due to other factors, the case requires this level of management and

Presents risks that can only be managed by a plan which requires close co-operation at a senior level due to the complexity of the case and/or because of the unusual resource commitments it requires; or

Although not assessed as a high or very high risk, there is a high likelihood of media scrutiny and/or public interest in the management of the case and there is a need to ensure that public confidence in the criminal justice system is maintained.

7.4 Exits from MAPPA

Category 1: Automatic de-registration at end of sex offender registration, unless the offender is still considered by Responsible Authority to pose a risk of serious harm to the public. If so, offender will remain in the MAPPA under Category 3 until the risk is reduced.

Category 2: Automatic de-registration at end of post release licence, unless the offender is still considered by Responsible Authority to pose a risk of serious harm to the public. If so, offender will remain in the MAPPA under Category 3 until the risk is reduced.

Category 3: At a point determined by the Responsible Authority where the offender is considered to no longer pose a risk of serious harm that requires management at either level 2 or 3.

7.5 Potentially Dangerous Persons (PDP)

"A Potentially Dangerous Person is a person who has not been convicted of, or cautioned for, any offence placing them in one of the three MAPPA Categories, but whose behaviour gives reasonable grounds for believing that there is a present likelihood of them committing an offence or offences that will cause serious harm." (ACPO 2007 Guidance on Protecting the Public: Managing Sexual and Violent Offenders)

MAPPA legislation does not provide the lawful authority for exchanging information on non-MAPPA persons. However, many police forces have taken steps to agree local protocols with partner agencies for providing risk assessment and management of these individuals outside of MAPPA.

7.6 Referral Process

Where an agency identifies a person, whose behaviour is giving cause for concern in terms of public protection, that agency should gather information and, based upon a risk assessment, make a referral into MAPPA or PDP.

  • Complete Referral Form (electronically where possible);
  • Ensure it is countersigned by Line Manager;
  • Email to: (using secure email);
  • Referral received at MAPPA Unit (by Thursday for 3pm);
  • Screening Panel (each Friday);
  • Feedback to referrer (within 10 days of receipt);
  • Request for agency reports where MAPP Level 2/3 or multi-agency PDP meetings are identified to manage the person.