Risk of harm to others (ROH)

A significant aspect of HMI Probation's work in the last few years has been the increasing focus we have given to the need for improvement in the assessment and management of offenders' Risk of Harm to others - the public protection aspect of Probation and Youth Offending work.  The need for improvement in Risk of Harm work has been indicated by results from our inspections, both of the management of adult offenders and in our Core Case Inspections of Youth Offending work.

Risk of Harm work as carried out by offender managers and YOT practitioners, and increasingly by police and prison staff, comprises a series of important tasks and processes each of which has to be done on time and each of which has to be done well, as an integral part of managing a case from start to end. We are strongly of the view that Risk of Harm cannot be eliminated when an offender is being managed in the community, but we expect managers and practitioners to take all reasonable action to keep to a minimum each offender's Risk of Harm to others.

The main aspects of our work on Risk of Harm (RoH) issues are:

  • a clear element within our regular inspection programmes of probation and youth offending work
  • thematic inspections, jointly with other inspectorates
  • RoH Inquiries and Serious Further Offence Reviews

Regular inspection programmes

The Offender Management Inspection programme (OMI) includes a distinct RoH element.  Along with general scores for assessment, interventions and initial outcomes, a score for RoH work overall - the RoH is calculated and is a key finding in each inspection.

We have developed a specific module for inspecting RoH – the Risk of Harm Area Assessment (RoHAA). In essence, this is a stand-alone version of the RoH thread from within OMI. Sometimes, following a poor OMI result, we identify the need for a reinspection of RoH work, and for this we use the RoHAA.  The RoHAA is also intended as a tool to enable practitioners and managers to self-assess their own RoH work.  More information on the RoHAA is can be found on the OMI2 programme page..

Alongside our regular assessment of RoH work in the core OMI programme, we also carried out, in agreement with NOMS, additional Risk of Harm Area Assessments in 11 Probation Areas between December 2007 and June 2008.  As a result, from June 2008 an assessment of the quality of RoH work in all 42 criminal justice areas was made in the preceding two years.

We are also giving increasing emphasis to the quality of RoH work by Youth Offending Teams in our Core Case Inspections of Youth Offending work, in consultation with the Youth Justice Board.

Recent joint thematic work

In September 2006, we published a thematic inspection report Putting Risk of Harm in Context: An Inspection Promoting Public Protection (PDF 0.53mb), jointly with HMI Prisons and HMI Constabulary. The report made a number of recommendations to police, probation and prisons together, aimed at improving further the coordination of work on public protection between these agencies. This followed a joint thematic inspection of work with sex offenders, published in December 2005.

During 2007-08 we have led a joint inspection with HMI Prisons and HMI Constabulary on the management of offenders in approved premises. The report 'Probation hostels – Control, Help and Change' was published on 28 March 2008. 

Risk of harm inquiries and serious further offence reviews

We carry out ad hoc independent reviews of Serious Further Offence cases - ie cases where an offender under probation or YOT supervision commits a serious further offence - at the request of Ministers.

In particular, during the course of 2005-06 we carried out three independent reviews of SFO cases, each of which attracted considerable publicity:

Peter Williams, supervised by Nottingham City Youth Offending Team (PDF 0.23mb) published in September 2005

Damien Hanson and Elliot White, supervised by London Probation Area (PDF 0.37mb) published in February 2006

Anthony Rice, supervised by Hampshire Probation Area (PDF 0.46mb) published in May 2006

We also provide advice to NOMS HQ on the handling of their reviews of SFO cases.

We also carry out other Risk of Harm inquiries relating to particular cases. 

Public protection & safeguarding - an Inspectorate perspective

A paper setting out HMI Probation's general perspective on Public Protection and Safeguarding (PDF 0.54mb).

HM Inspectorate of Probation

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