Amendment 148C

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Committee (6th Day) – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 26 February 2024.

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Photo of Lord Roborough Lord Roborough Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 7:00, 26 February 2024

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, for his amendment regarding the Multi Agency Public Protection System, MAPPS. I understand that the debate has not really been very much to do with MAPPS, but I will first address the amendment, which does address it. Amendment 148C would place a duty on the Secretary of State to publish a report on progress of the development of MAPPS for prisoners subject to notification requirements and licence conditions under the Victims and Prisoners Act 2024, within 12 months of Royal Assent.

It may be helpful if I provide some explanation of MAPPS. This will answer some of those questions, but I have better answers at the end. MAPPS is a Home Office IT project, currently jointly funded with the Ministry of Justice, to enable the improved management of dangerous offenders, including violent and sex offenders, under Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements, or MAPPA. It is intended to replace the current case management system, the ViSOR database, which has been the main IT tool used by the police, probation and prison services since 2005.

The current database, ViSOR, while stable, is now almost 20 years old. The Home Office and the Ministry of Justice began work on MAPPS in 2020 to enable criminal justice agencies to share information in real time and improve their risk assessments and the management of all MAPPA nominals. That can include domestic abuse perpetrators and stalkers, as referenced in Amendments 148A and 148B.

I am sure we all agree that it is essential that police and other MAPPA agencies have the tools they need to manage the risk posed by serious offenders, and MAPPS will do just that. The new functionality will include greater capacity; a more intuitive system with push notifications; and increased mobility. MAPPS, as a new and modern system, will be more responsive to agency needs, and adaptable to any new notification requirements.

As noble Lords would expect for a project so important to public safety, we are being diligent in our approach to MAPPS development. MAPPS is a custom product, being built to meet the bespoke needs of police, prison and probation officers as well as other MAPPA authorities. While third-party contractors are used, given other discussions on the Bill, I am sure that noble Lords will want to note that Fujitsu is not involved in MAPPS development and never has been.

We welcome the interest in the MAPPS programme and, while the work is ongoing, the Government will of course further update Parliament on its development and implementation. Given that MAPPS is already being designed specifically to meet the needs of those agencies involved in the management of all MAPPA offenders, in conjunction with those very agencies, I do not consider that the proposed report would say anything more than has already been mentioned, and it is therefore unnecessary.

I turn to the debate that we have had in Committee. MAPPA deals only with convicted offenders under four categories, but much of the debate has been about information sharing in a way that is not consistent with that use of it. In answer to numerous noble Lords—the noble Lords, Lord Coaker, Lord Ponsonby and Lord Russell of Liverpool, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Newlove and Lady Brinton—on data sharing, the PCSC Act put beyond doubt the authority of agencies to share relevant information for the purposes of assessing and managing an offender’s risk, and to enable agencies and individuals who do not have a duty to co-operate to share information where they can contribute to the assessment and management of an offender’s risk. These measures clarified existing arrangements and will ensure that agencies understand how any sharing of information for the purposes of MAPPA management interacts with the obligations contained in the data protection legislation.

In answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, we are bringing coercive individuals under the management of MAPPA but it is potentially under the lower categories 2 and 3, as I mentioned in the previous debate. There have been numerous questions. I am sure I have not answered them all and I will write to noble Lords.