MAPPA is all about protecting the public. All MAPPA meetings will identify who could be at risk from an offender and how those people can be protected.
Victim Contact Service
The National Probation Service (NPS) has a statutory duty under the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004 (DVCV Act 2004) to contact the victims of offenders convicted of a specified violent or sexual offence who are sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment. This is achieved through the statutory Victim Contact Service (VCS), which has been in operation since April 2001 and enables eligible victims (or in the case of a death, the bereaved family) to be informed about key developments in the offender’s sentence. The Service was extended to victims of restricted patients and non-restricted patients in 2005 and 2008 respectively.
The Service is delivered by Victim Liaison Officers (VLO) who are specially trained for the sensitive nature of the work and will contact victims within eight weeks of the offender being sentenced. The VLO will provide information about the criminal justice process, what the offender’s sentence means and how decisions are made about how long the offender stays in prison or hospital. This includes information on tariffs, appeals, parole eligibility, release (including release on temporary licence), conditional discharge and recalls. Specifically in relation to unrestricted patients, the information will come direct from the hospital and not the VLO.
The VCS, through the VLOs, helps represent the feelings of victims when cases are discussed at multi-agency meetings and when offenders are being considered for parole, release from prison on licence or discharge from hospital. Victims have a statutory right to make representations about conditions they would wish to see attached to any release licence, (including release on temporary licence). The DVCV Act 2004 requires probation to send the victim’s request for licence conditions direct to the decision maker, and MAPPA and/or the Offender Manager cannot prevent this, although the Offender Manager can submit alternative requests. The final decision will be for the prison or Parole Board. No-contact and an exclusion zone are typical conditions requested by victims. If the offender’s case is being considered by the Parole Board, the victim is also entitled to make a Victim Personal Statement setting out the impact of the offence and what the impact of release would be.
Victims can opt in or out of the Service at any point during the offender’s sentence. If the victim does not feel able to receive direct contact from the NPS, they can nominate a close friend or family member to receive information on their behalf.
Although the VCS is an information service, VLOs can also signpost the victim to support services, such as Victim Support. Victim Support is a national charity that helps people affected by Crime in England and Wales and gives free and confidential support (https://www.victimsupport.org.uk).