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Integrated Offender Management: What is it?

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Background

Following the success of other non-statutory programmes such as Prolific and Priority Offender schemes, the Drug Interventions Programme and Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) introduced Integrated Offender Management (IOM). These programmes target and prioritise the most dangerous or prolific offenders and can be set apart from other work of Probation Trusts as they allow the involved agencies to engage with offenders regardless of whether they are subject to statutory supervision.

In 2008 government funding was provided to six pioneer areas (Avon and Somerset, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, West Midlands, West Yorkshire and London) to set up IOM programmes. Since then more have been formed. These generally follow county or major city lines. In some cases, separate regional IOM programmes have been set up, which fall under one catch-all area. For example, Sussex has an IOM board, which includes four separate regional IOM groups (these are based in hubs at Crawley, Worthing, Brighton & Hove and Hastings). Each of these hubs then has ‘key members’ who are co-located at Kent, Surrey & Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company premises to ensure the sharing of information.

What is Integrated Offender Management?

As with most programmes within rehabilitation, IOM aims to reduce crime and reoffending rates, while also raising the public’s confidence in criminal justice system as a whole. As alluded to in the title, instead of individual agencies separately tackling crime, IOM programmes use a multi-agency approach in order to hopefully achieve greater results across the board. Furthermore, IOM uses the delivery of a managed set of specifically tailored interventions which are designed to respond to the risks and need of the individual in question. Ultimately this disrupts the offender’s criminal activity and so reduces re-offending.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Home Office have jointly written a report, in which they detail the ‘key principals’ of the IOM scheme. These are as follows:

Most central to the IOM scheme is principal 1, that all partners involved should manage offenders together. This is the idea that by sharing information and intelligence on offenders the various different agencies will achieve greater reductions in reoffending. Ultimately, this is thought to bring greater efficiency and help to reduce reoffending rates over a shorter timescale.

In addition to partners manage offenders together, other core principles shared by IOM’s are to deliver a local response to local problems (2), with all offenders potentially in scope (3), facing up to their responsibility or facing the consequences (4), with best use made of existing programmes and governance arrangements (5) in order to achieve long-term desistance from crime (6).

Who is involved?

While there are numerous IOM programmes in place, covering different geographical locations, they typically all comprise the following statutory and non-statutory agencies:

• National Probation Service (NPS)
• Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC)
• Prison Services (both public and private)
• The Police services
• Youth Offending Services
• Local Authorities (e.g. Accommodation)
• Pathway providers e.g. Jobcentre Plus housing providers and drug and alcohol services
• Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS).

A home office report written to present the findings of a 2013 IOM survey indicated that 96 per cent of the IOM arrangements in question report the involvement of the police and the probation service. Other common partners were Local Authorities (88 per cent), Drug and Alcohol Services (86 per cent), Housing Services (80 per cent), Youth Offending Services (77 per cent) and The Prison Service (66 per cent). A full break down can be seen in the table below. This indicates that most IOM programmes are heavily influenced or led by the probation and police services.


Local IOM meetings

The IOM operational Guide, provided by Sussex IOM, states that local operational group meetings should ideally be held every week and at least once every two weeks. These operational group meetings are a chance for the members to come together to decide on which offenders to adopt/de-register from the IOM programme. Each offender is then assigned a management plan in which the partner agencies decide how best to monitor, support and intervene. The risk management plan also identifies the agency and individual with responsibility for the actions and interventions to manage risks and support rehabilitation of the individual.

Who attends the meetings?

As the central idea behind IOM involves various agencies liaising with one another, representatives of these agencies are required to attend regular meetings. From the probation services (CRC/NPS) a Senior Probation Officer is usually present, this individual may also chair the meetings. An IOM Manager, as well as other IOM police officers represent the local police force. Other representatives include substance misuse workers, local supported housing providers, youth offending workers and representatives from the prison service. However, this list is not exhaustive and where appropriate the panel may wish to invite specific representatives from other agencies depending on the offenders due to be discussed.

Identification and de-registration

Any agency or partner involved in the IOM programme is able to refer an offender. Referrals are sent to the Senior Probation Officer/Police IOM coordinator, who then take the offender in question into consideration in the next meeting. This case is then assessed and researched to decide whether or not the offender should be inducted into the IOM programme. This assessment involves evaluating any previous offences, the local crime priorities, any intelligence already gathered on the offender and the overall cost of the crime committed.

Following the registration of an offender into the IOM programme, a specific agency is given the main responsibility of delivering the action plan (which is specifically designed to attempt to prevent future offences being committed). For example, if a prolific offender is admitted to the programme in conjunction with a drug/alcohol issue, the substance misuse representative may take the lead on that particular offender’s intervention.

Offenders may be de-registered from the IOM programme under the following circumstances:

• They are assessed as “Green” for a period of three months and exit plan implemented. An offender can be assessed as “green” if they present they have full attendance to any arranged meetings or appointments, there is no current police intelligence associated with them, they test negative for drug tests or are in stable accommodation and/or employment.
• 5 years or more of custody imposed (if re-registration to be considered case to be brought to IOM referral and review meetings 12 months prior to release)

Implementation


The practices involved with IOM programmes can be likened to that of the ‘carrot and stick’ paradigm. As the diagram below indicates, a three pronged approach is used in which offenders receive support, intervention and disruption.



Supporting activities such as home visits or appointments, may resettle the individual back into the community (the carrot). If an individual is reluctant to engage with the programme and is therefore at risk of re-offending, community police officers may intervene with customised aid such as drug intervention (the stick). However, it is worth noting that some of the offenders involved in IOM programmes may not be under statutory supervision and therefore questions could be asked as to how effective interventions are.

Does it work?

In terms of success, IOM has been subject to some scrutiny. There have been many different evaluations of IOM programmes and these vary in terms of the party undertaking the analysis and also on how success is measured. For example, some may choose to measure the success of an IOM programme using the ‘Key Principals’ outlined by the MoJ and home Office. By looking at how well or badly an IOM programme was able to implement these principals may be one way of looking at its overall success. However, other variables such as value for money or self-assessment via priority offenders may be equally conclusive in measuring a programme’s success.

A joint inspection of the IOM Scheme was carried out by HM Inspectorate of Probation and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. The resulting report found that of the 65 cases that were looked at in conjunction with the IOM programme, 62% breached order or reoffended. While this figure shows that the majority of the offenders in question did re-offend, it is difficult to conclude if this indicative of a positive or negative result for IOM, as the report does not make a comparison between IOM and non-IOM cases. This lack of statistical sophistication, presents an issue in the methodology of their evaluation.

Another independent evaluation, carried out by Sheffield Hallam University on the Sussex IOM did find much larger reductions in reoffending rates. This report looked at both the cost of the programme as well as changes in reoffending rates to run a cost-benefit analysis of IOM. Finally, they used their findings to run models as a way of trying and predict how much money could be saved in the future if IOM was continually adopted. This concluded that over a 10-year period, for every £1 invested in IOM, as much as £1.71 could be saved, due to the impact the programme has on re-offending rates.

It would seem that while the task of reducing re-offending rates is a highly complex one, IOM programmes may be a useful tool in achieving such a goal. By implementing a ‘bottom up’ approach in which multiple local agencies work together and share information on offenders, it would seem greater efficiency can be achieved and in the long run perhaps money can even be saved. To me focussing resources and prioritising the most prolific offenders using IOM seems a progressive way of trying to reduce crime on a local scale.
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