Prolific and other priority offenders: a joint inspection of the PPO programme

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Great Britain. HM Inspectorate of Probation; Great Britain. Crown Prosecution Service. Inspectorate; Great Britain. HM Inspectorate of Court Administration
Criminal Justice Joint Inspection
Date of publication
1 July 2009
Offenders, Criminal Justice Services, Young Offenders
Social welfare
Material type

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The Prolific and other Priority Offender (PPO) programme was introduced in 2004 as a way of targeting the small number offenders known to commit a disproportionately large amount of crime. It placed responsibility on local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships and Community Safety Partnerships to establish local schemes, usually multi-agency partnerships primarily involving police and probation, to work with PPOs. The strategy had three complementary strands, each designed to tackle prolific offending and its causes: Prevent and Deter - stopping young people from becoming prolific offenders; Catch and Convict - reducing offending by apprehension and conviction, and through enforcement, by ensuring a swift return to court for those who continue to offend; Rehabilitate and Resettle - working to increase the number of such offenders who stop offending by offering a range of supportive interventions. The purpose of this inspection was to consider the contributions made by the criminal justice agencies to the schemes and assess their effectiveness. It focused on the implementation of the Catch and Convict and Rehabilitate and Resettle strands of the strategy.

Most of the PPO schemes inspected were generally performing well and delivering interventions leading to potentially positive outcomes. Individuals identified as PPOs were usually supervised intensely by a range of service providers engaged in tackling the underlying problems related to offending. The enforcement of community orders and licences was well managed and it was found that the schemes offered far greater opportunities for restrictive and constructive interventions than the standard supervision regimes. It was, however, too early to assess the impact of the schemes in relation to long-term resettlement success, once PPOs ceased to be under enhanced supervision.

However, although the National Premium Service (NPS) provided a useful function in specifying the contributions to be made by the respective criminal justice agencies when working with PPOs, a number of deficiencies with its operation were found. These relate primarily to the need of the NPS to take account of other criminal justice developments and locate PPOs securely in the developing model of offender management. Confusion existed about how to deal with those offenders serving sentences of under 12 months and not subject to probation supervision on release. Work in prisons suffered, in particular, from insufficient liaison with PPO schemes and, in the absence of effective file marking by other agencies, many prisons experienced difficulties in identifying PPOs and prioritising work to address their behaviour.

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