Clause 48 - “MAPPA arrangements” to cease to apply to certain offenders

Deregulation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 18th March 2014.

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Question proposed,That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald The Solicitor-General

Until recently the courts could make disqualification orders to prevent offenders from working with children. Anyone subject to a disqualification order must also be managed by criminal justice agencies under multi-agency public protection arrangements.

Disqualifications were abolished and replaced with a barring scheme run by the Disclosure and Barring Service. All those who were subject to disqualification orders have been fully considered by the DBS, which looked at every order and decided how to convert those into entries on its barred lists. Anyone barred from working with children will still be prevented from getting employment with children through the barring system. However, no existing disqualification orders have been revoked and those orders are imposed for life, so they last much longer than probation supervision on licence after an offender is released from prison. They can also last much longer than sex offender registration, under which offenders must notify the police of various information.

Unlike those other situations, someone subject to a so-called stand-alone disqualification order does not have a duty to stay in touch or co-operate with the authorities, but those authorities are obliged by the MAPPA legislation to manage such people through that process. That is in contrast to those on the new barred list, who are not required to be managed under MAPPA simply because of their barred status. The clause rectifies that inconsistency. Subsection (6) takes disqualification orders out of the scope for MAPPA. There are, however, arrangements to tighten the general  way in which high-risk offenders who were previously under disqualification orders are managed so that there are no risks in making that change.

In subsection (5), six offences are added to the list in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 that automatically leads to MAPPA management in cases that attract sentences of 12 months or more. In practice, many of the offences for which disqualification orders were given automatically qualified for MAPPA management and the small number that did not are the extra offences that have been added. That ensures that all offences for which a disqualification order had to be imposed now qualify for automatic MAPPA management where those receive sentences of 12 months or more.

Secondly, there is MAPPA agencies’ discretion over offenders who are not automatically managed under MAPPA. The list in the 2003 Act applies to relevant sexual offences but not to violent offences, for which someone has to receive 12 months or more to be covered. There has always been discretion to bring an offender under MAPPA if that is warranted by the risk they present, even if they receive a shorter sentence. That continues to apply and will ensure that high-risk offenders continue to be managed.

The clause will remove inconsistency with the new vetting and barring arrangements while ensuring that dangerous offenders are still managed effectively under MAPPA. I am confident that all dangerous offenders who ought to be managed will be managed, and I commend the clause to the Committee.

Photo of Karl Turner Karl Turner Opposition Assistant Whip (Commons) 10:15 am, 18th March 2014

The clause addresses the requirement for agencies to share information relating to offenders who pose a potential risk of harm to the public. That includes offenders who have been convicted of sexual and/or violent offences. The clause will remove the requirement to share information solely because someone is subject to a disqualification order barring them from working with children or vulnerable adults following their conviction. The power of the court to impose such an order was repealed by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. The clause adds six offences to schedule 15 to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 that are classed as offences for which a conviction may suggest a risk to the public. The list will now effectively include any offence that could have resulted in a disqualification order being made. I see the Solicitor-General nodding to confirm that that is the case.

We have no objection to the clause, as it appears that anyone who would have been subject to the MAPPA information-sharing criteria due to being subject to a disqualification order will remain subject to MAPPA information sharing by virtue of having previously been convicted of a relevant offence in schedule 15 to the 2003 Act, as amended. That is my understanding from reading the Bill, and it therefore appears sensible to tidy up the requirement, subject to the same level of protection being afforded to the public, but I want to raise a brief question. Can the Minister assure the Committee that the amendments to schedule 15 to the 2003 Act will apply retrospectively to the MAPPA information-sharing criteria so that any offender subject to a disqualification order will remain subject to MAPPA information sharing?

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald The Solicitor-General

The point is that if someone has committed an offence on the list, as amended, they will be a MAPPA-controlled individual. I have mentioned the change for violent offences, in which a 12-month sentence will be required, and I think we would both accept that that is a sensible change. The answer to the hon. Gentleman’s question is yes.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 48 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.