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The Violent & Sexual Offender Management team (VSOM)

Introduction

The Violent & Sexual Offender Management team (VSOM) provide a 7 day service and have responsibility for dealing with:

  • All Registered Sex Offenders (individuals subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003).
  • Violent Offenders discussed under the MAPPA process.
  • Dangerous Offenders discussed under the MAPPA process.
  • Potentially Dangerous Persons (PDPs) which have been sanctioned by a Superintendent.

Lead by a Detective Inspector the department is split into three teams each managed by a Detective Sergeant. Teams are made up of detective constables and a recent and welcome addition to the department, investigating officers (IO's). IO's are specially trained members of police staff who support the management of our offenders.

VSOM and Integrated Offender Management are led by the same Detective Chief Inspector. Steps have been taken to bring the working practice of both teams closer together in order to build resilience to meet the challenges presented by offenders who present the greatest risk of harm to our communities. Traditional community based IOM Field Officers have been trained to support their VSOM colleagues and improve the connection between VSOM and Local Policing Teams. Information sharing is key in understanding and managing risk together.

Registered Sex Offenders (RSOs)

In 1997 legislation was introduced that placed a requirement on offenders who were convicted of certain sexual offences to be managed. This legislation was subsequently superseded by the 2003 Sexual Offences Act. Individuals who meet the threshold for sex offender registration are subject of what are known as the 'notification requirements' whereby the offender has to register certain details with the police. The length of time on the Register is dependent upon the sentence but for an adult offender it can range from 2 years for a caution to indefinite for 30 months or more imprisonment. This is more commonly known as the Sex Offenders Register. Breach of the sex offender notification requirements is a criminal offence with a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment. The offender's w/m page on PNC shows details of sex offender notification requirements. Registered Sex Offenders are also denoted on SPIN.

Completion of notifications

Upon conviction (sometimes upon sentence for certain offences) or leaving prison offenders must register their details in person at a prescribed police station within 3 days. They must provide their name, addresses used, financial details, identification details such as passport and any residence with a child. Offenders must also attend the police station to notify details of foreign travel.

What is a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) / Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO)?

SOPOs were replaced in 2015 with SHPOs. They are preventative orders issued by the court upon sentence which are designed to protect the public from further sexual harm from the offender by placing prohibitions on him. The prohibitions are tailored around the offending behaviour and may include, for example, restrictions around contact with children or the use of the internet. Details of a SOPO or SHPO are also recorded on the Police National Computer. Breaches of these orders are arrestable and carry a maximum of 5 years imprisonment. VSOM advise investigating officers in the completion of applications for these orders.

VISOR (Violent and Sexual Offenders Register):

All Registered Sex Offenders are MAPPA (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements) offenders and are monitored by the VSOM Unit utilising the VISOR (Violence and Sexual Offenders Register) system. VISOR is a confidential system used by Police, Probation and Prisons. The Police National Computer (PNC) highlights if an offender is managed on VISOR.

What is MAPPA?

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 provides for the establishment of Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements in order to protect the public from serious harm by sexual and violent offenders through partnership working of Responsible Authorities (Police,  Probation, Prisons) and Duty to Cooperate (DTC) Agencies (such as Social Care, YOS, Health, Housing, UKBA, Education).

What does the VSOM department do?

  • Post-conviction involvement.
  • Home visits in line with current risk assessment.
  • Civil applications to court - Sexual Harm Prevention Orders, Notification Orders, Sexual Risk Orders and Violent Offender Orders.
  • Monitoring compliance with notification requirements of Sexual Offences Act 2003.
  • Deal with breaches of notification requirements and breaches of SOPO / SHPO.
  • Formulation of risk management plans.
  • Maintain VISOR records in line with national policy.
  • Covert tactics.
  • Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme (CSOD) applications and applications under Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) relating to nominals monitored by our department.
  • Partnership working and attendance at MAPPA panels.
  • Liaison with other Forces and Approved Premises.
  • Offer assistance to investigating officers dealing with sexual offences.
  • Retain some investigations for further sexual offences committed by Registered Sex Offenders.
  • Safety measures for victims.
  • Briefing slides and trigger plans for LPTs.
  • Risk Assessments.

In completing risk assessments both dynamic risk assessments and static risk assessments are reviewed to arrive at the general level of risk management for the case. ARMS (Active Risk Management System) is the dynamic assessment which takes into account the 'here and now' and reviews 11 areas of the offender's life (7 risk factors and 4 protective factors). Risk management plans are formulated as a result of risk assessments being completed. Risk level defines the frequency of visits, ranging from monthly for very high risk offenders to once every 12 months for low risk offenders. Risk is defined against a threshold of 'serious harm'.

Did you know?

There were over 52,000 registered sex offenders in the UK as of 31 March 2016. The number of police recorded sexual offences has risen considerably over the past 2 years which adds to the workload of the VSOM Team. Staffordshire currently monitors 1130 RSO's (as of June 2017) and the results of Operation Safenet are now also impacting on the numbers of individuals being subject of the Sex Offenders Register.

Did you know?

Under a 2010 Supreme Court ruling (the case of F and Thompson) offenders subject to indefinite registration requirements can now appeal to be removed from the sex offenders register 15 years after being released from prison. To date, in Staffordshire there have been 38 applications for review and 18 of those have been removed from the Sex Offenders Register.

Do you know what percentage of child sex offenders are known to their victims?

At least 80% of child sex offenders are known to their victims, they are often a member of the family, a friend of the victim or a friend of the victim's family.