Risk Management of Sex Offenders in the Community: Challenges for the Police

Amanda Matravers, University of Cambridge

Drawing on police file data and interviews with serving police officers, this paper explores the challenges faced by the UK Police Service in dealing with the risk management of sex offenders in the community. Although existing legislation requires most sex offenders to register with local police, no uniform approach to the management of these individuals has been developed across the Service. At present, most forces rely on an unwieldy combination of risk classification algorithms, individual assessments and police intelligence to determine the level of risk posed by particular offenders. The efficacy of current arrangements is widely disputed, with criticisms relating to the over-inclusiveness of the sex offender register combining with claims that actuarial risk instruments are incapable of providing reliable assessments of offence risk. Fresh challenges are ahead in the form of new legislation, drawn up in response to increasing public concern and requiring the police to formalise joint working with the Probation Service in the assessment and management of sexual and violent offenders in the local area.

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Updated 05/20/2006