Major investigation and public protection

Multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA)

Section 325 to 327B of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA) established multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) in each of the 42 criminal justice areas of England and Wales. These arrangements are designed to protect the public, including victims of crime, from serious harm by sexual or violent offenders.

MAPPA requires criminal justice agencies and other bodies to work together in partnership with these offenders.

Legal framework

The introduction to the MAPPA Guidance, details legislation and statutory responsibilities relevant to managing sexual and violent offenders. This is reinforced by the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) which incorporates Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Under these Articles, the police and other public authorities have a duty of care to the public.

The public has a right to expect the police and other agencies to exercise their powers to protect life (Article 2, ECHR) and protect individuals absolute right against torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 3, ECHR). In addition, the rights of both offenders and victims to respect for private and family life (Article 8, ECHR) must be considered before the disclosure of information about them.

Action that infringes a person’s rights must be justified, based on a legitimate aim. Any action must be lawful and proportionate to achieve that aim and based of the circumstances of each case.

The police service must ensure that the human rights of victims, the public and offenders are balanced, and that public protection responsibilities are not undermined by the human rights considerations of individual offenders or PDPs.

MAPPA structure

The responsible authorities (RAs) are the police and Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service. The RAs have a duty to ensure that the risks posed by specified sexual and violent offenders are assessed and managed appropriately. The RA responsible for the management of the offender is also considered the ‘prime agency’ for MAPPA. See identification of offender for detail regarding management, thresholds and duration of registration.


Every MAPPA offender must be identified as one of the three categories outlined below:

Category 1

Registered sexual offender. This includes offenders required to comply with notification requirements under Part 2 of the Sexual Offence Act 2003.

Category 2

Murderer or an offender who has been convicted of an offence under Schedule 15 of the CJA 2003 and:

  • who has been sentenced to 12 months or more in custody, or
  • who has been sentenced to 12 months or more in custody and is transferred to hospital under s47/s49 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (‘MHA 1983′), or
  • who is detained in hospital under s37 of the MHA 1983 with or without a restriction order under s41 of that Act.

Category 3

Other dangerous offender: a person who has been cautioned for or convicted of an offence which indicates that he or she is capable of causing serious harm and which requires multi-agency management. This might not be for an offence under Schedule 15 of the CJA 2003.

See the full list of Schedule 15 offences for further information.

Lead agency

The lead agency varies depending on the category of the offender and whether they are the subject of statutory supervision by HMPPS at the time. The lead agency is the agency with statutory authority and responsibility to manage a MAPPA offender. This management involves appropriate information sharing in order to properly identify risk. The lead agency has primary responsibility for referring the offender to level 2 or 3 management or continuation at level 1.


The police are responsible for managing offenders in MAPPA category 1 on ViSOR. This involves ensuring that all offenders subject to the notification requirements:

  • register as required
  • are risk assessed by suitably trained staff using Risk Matrix 2000 and ARMS
  • are visited at their registered address in line with police policy and guidance
  • are reviewed in line with police policies and procedures
  • have their ViSOR records maintained in accordance with national standards.

The police must ensure that all breaches of notification requirements are promptly followed up and appropriate action taken.

Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service

HMPSS is responsible for the management of MAPPA category 2 and 3 offenders aged 18 or over. Those under 18 are managed by youth offending teams.

HMPPS must ensure that all MAPPA category 2 level 2 and category 2 level 3 cases are recorded on ViSOR, managed at the appropriate level under MAPPA and reviewed regularly.

Joint agency working between HMPPS and the police service is recognised to be good practice. This may include joint home visits and risk assessment, and other contacts with offenders to ensure a joined-up approach to management.

The prison service ensure all MAPPA offenders in custody are identified and will request being a partner to a ViSOR record.

Cases in general are managed by the prison’s interdepartmental risk management team (IRMT). The prison service must ensure t hat IRMT is shared with the offender manager and is incorporated into the sentence planning process.

The prison service, as part of their responsibilities for populating their minimum data set on ViSOR, must provide the release date as soon as it is known. this is recorded in the custody attachment of a ViSOR nominal record and should be notified to police by using a ViSOR activity log. Any changes to these dates must be recorded and notified as soon as they are known. Police must ensure that the prison staff are granted partnership status to enable them to provide the information .

The prison service must also share information and actively engage in the MAPPA process in accordance with guidance (MAPPA Guidance 2.10 to 2.18).

Levels of management

Level 1 (ordinary agency management)

Ordinary agency management is where the risks posed by the offender can be managed by the lead agency. This does not mean that other agencies will not be involved, only that it is not necessary to refer the case to level 2 or 3.

It is essential that information sharing takes place, disclosure considered, and there are discussions between agencies as necessary.

Level 2 (active multi-agency management)

Level 2 management is necessary in cases that have been:

  • assessed as posing a high or very high risk of serious harm
  • identified as a lower risk but active involvement, interventions and coordination are required from other agencies to manage the risks of serious harm
  • lowered from level 3
  • identified as ones where multi-agency management adds value to the lead agency’s management of the risk of serious harm posed.

Level 3 (active enhanced multi-agency management)

Level 3 cases are those that meet level 2 criteria but risk management requires senior representation from the RAs and DTC agencies.

These cases are likely to require significant resource allocation, or have media scrutiny or public interest considerations.

Other bodies

Other bodies have a duty to cooperate (DTC) with RAs in this task. They are specified in section 325(6) of the CJA 2003 and include those covering areas such as education, employment, housing and social care.

The supervision of this work is carried out by the strategic management board (SMB) in each area. Lay advisers provide the SMB with an independent perspective.


ViSOR is the police-owned national computer offender management system for the three RAs. Its use is governed by the national ViSOR standards.

Approved premises

These are a national public protection resource. They allow increased residential supervision of offenders likely to pose a risk of serious harm to others. Offenders reside in an approved premises for assessment, supervision and management. This protects the public by reducing the likelihood of reoffending and promoting rehabilitation.

Approved premises include establishments formerly known as probation hostels and those managed by voluntary sector providers and probation boards. Approved premises are designed for adult offenders (aged 18 and over) and are inappropriate for those aged 16 to 17.

Page last accessed 09 April 2020