PSI 09-2002 - Revised Chapters of Lifer Manual - DOC

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					PSO 4700                                                      Chapter 7 Page 1

7.1 Risk assessment

7.1.1 The overriding consideration in risk assessment is the protection of the
      public. That being the case, those involved in undertaking risk
      assessments of lifers need to be satisfied that the prisoner’s risk is
      reducing in order to recommend progressive moves in custody and that
      the risk has reduced to an acceptable level compatible with the protection
      of public safety in order to recommend release.

7.1.2 Risk assessment involves consideration of a wide range of different
      factors. These include information to do with development from childhood
      to adulthood, criminal history, actions during an offence and what that
      suggests about motivation, lifestyle and attitudes at the time of the index
      offence and behaviour and attitudes in prison.

7.1.3 The following provides guidance on the types of factor which need to be
      taken into account when considering risk for sexual and violent offenders.
      These lists are not exhaustive or applicable to all types of offender. They
      provide guidance on the kinds of thing that are relevant in collecting
      information that will help to inform risk assessments. Issues which will be
      looked at in respect of sex offenders or offenders whose offences have
      involved a possible sexual element include the following:

      1.     Sexual preference e.g. heterosexual, homosexual, for children.

      2.     Sexualised violence i.e. a preference for coerced sex rather than
             consenting sex. This could include a preference for rape, or sexual
             arousal to violence.

      3.     Sexual preoccupation. This includes an obsession with sex,
             repeated sexualisation of non-sexual situations e.g. working
             relationships or wanting to have sex to the point where it becomes
             an obsession.

      4.     Offence-related fetish.

      5.     Adversarial sexual attitudes i.e. are the offender’s sexual
             relationships characterised by the male being dominant and the
             female being submissive through his seeing women generally as
             sex objects.

      6.     Sexual entitlement – having a sexual need entitles you to gratify it.

      7.     Child abuse supportive beliefs. That is, beliefs that minimise the
             seriousness of the sexual abuse of children.

Amendment                                                     Issued 26/02/2002
PSO 4700                                                     Chapter 7 Page 2

     8.     Women as enjoying/seeking, not minding sex – attitudes that
            minimise rape as opposed to the belief that women deserve rape.

     9.     Women as deserving rape – attitudes that do not dispute that rape
            is wrong but regard it as justified.

     10.    Women as deceitful – attitudes that women are deceptive,
            corruptive or exploitative.

     11.    Hostility towards/minimisation of action taken against another victim
            group i.e. against a specific sub-group of people against whom the
            offender offends (e.g. prostitutes).

     12.    Inadequacy. This includes feeling lonely, having a low self-esteem
            and feeling that major life events are decided by events outside the
            offender’s own control.

     13.    Distorted intimacy balance – finding that emotional intimacy is more
            easily achieved with children than with adults.

     14.    Grievance thinking. This involves suspiciousness, anger, grievance
            (seeing self as wronged) and seeing self as entitled to take

     15.    Callous/unemotional traits – not just doing things that cause
            distress, but also being indifferent to how others are affected.

     16.    Lack of emotionally intimate relationships with adults. This refers to
            marital-type relationships, either homosexual or heterosexual, but
            not to family relationships or social friendships.

     17.    Impulsive lifestyle. This refers to a pattern of making irresponsible
            and impulsive decisions, often (but not always) driven by proneness
            to boredom.

     18.    Poor cognitive-problem solving - both failing to use problem-solving
            or using maladaptive coping strategies e.g. anger, rumination.

     19.    Poor emotional control. This refers to uncontrolled outbursts of

Amendment                                                     Issued 26/02/2002
PSO 4700                                                           Chapter 7 Page 3

7.1.4 Examples of the types of factor for assessing the risk of violence include:

           1.   Type and extent of violence including age at first conviction for
                 violence, history of violence, evidence of a pattern or escalation
                 in violence and institutional violence.

           2.   Use of weapon and seriousness of harm caused during violence.

           3. Presence of psychopathic traits, as assessed by a psychopathy

           4.   Evidence of personality disorder or major mental illness such as

           5.   Substance abuse problems, including alcohol, and their link with

           6.   Impulsivity.

           7.   Poor emotional control.

           8.   Lack of insight into the reasons for violence.

           9.   Anti-social attitudes which facilitate violence.

           10. Distorted or irrational thinking.

           11. Unresponsiveness to treatment.

           12. Failure on prior conditional release, escape attempts and non-
               compliance with supervision.

           13. Stability of relationships with others.

           14. Exposure to destabilisers/release back to high risk situations e.g.
               criminal peer groups.

           15. Lack of personal and community support.

           16. Association with criminal peers.

           17. Employment problems.

Amendment                                                          Issued 26/02/2002
PSO 4700                                                        Chapter 7 Page 4

7.1.5 Assault on spouses or long term partners.

           The Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide (SARA: Kropp et al,
           1999) consists of the following twenty items which need to be
           considered in carrying out risk assessments:-

           1. Past Assault of Family Members
           2. Past Assault of Strangers or Acquaintances
           3. Past Violations of Conditional Release or Community Supervision
           4. Recent Relationship Problems
           5. Recent Employment Problems
           6. Victim of and/or Witness to Family Violence as a Child or
           7. Recent Substance Abuse/Dependence
           8. Recent Suicidal or Homicidal Ideation/Intent
           9. Recent Psychotic and/or Manic Symptoms
           10. Personality Disorder with Anger, Impulsivity, or Behavioural
           11. Past Physical Assault
           12. Past Sexual Assault/Sexual Jealousy
           13. Past Use of Weapons and/or Credible Threats of Death
           14. Recent Escalation in Frequency or Severity of Assault
           15. Past Violation of “No Contact” Orders
           16. Extreme Minimisation or Denial of Spousal Assault History
           17. Attitudes that Support or Condone Spousal Assault
           18. Severe and/or Sexual Assault (Current or Most Recent Offence)
           19. Use of Weapons and/or Credible Threats of Death (Current or
               Most Recent Offence)
           20. Violation of “No Contact” Order (Current or Most Recent Offence)

7.1.6      Killing a Partner

           It is estimated that two thirds of women killed by an intimate or ex-
           intimate partner have been physically abused before they were killed.
           Therefore, some of the items above could indicate risk of homicide,
           e.g. items number 8 and 13, Recent Suicidal or Homicidal Ideation or
           Intent and Past Use of Weapons and/or Credible Threats of Death.
           Sexual Jealousy is also thought to be a significant risk factor for killing
           a partner. Other risk factors are stalking, threat of or actual
           separation, and an age disparity of ten or more years between the
           potential victim and the offender.

Amendment                                                       Issued 26/02/2002
PSO 4700                                                      Chapter 7 Page 5

7.2        Denial of guilt

7.2.1      General principles

            There is no rule or policy which automatically prevents a lifer who
           denies guilt from progressing through the lifer system, or from being
           released. Such prisoners can be and have been released provided
           that Ministers (in the case of mandatory lifers) or the Parole Board (in
           the case of discretionary lifers, automatic lifers and prisoners
           sentenced to detention at Her Majesty’s pleasure) decide on risk
           grounds that it is safe to release them.

7.2.2      It is for the courts and the independent Criminal Cases Review
           Commission to review alleged miscarriages of justice in England,
           Wales and Northern Ireland. Prisoners should be advised to contact
           the Commission where they continue to maintain their innocence. In
           considering the question of risk to the public, which is the key
           consideration in granting release on parole or life licence, the Prison
           Service has to assume that the prisoner was rightly convicted.
           However, denial of guilt is not a bar to the release of prisoners on
           parole or life licence.

7.2.3      Risk Assessment

           The primary responsibility of the Prison Service in this area is to
           assess and seek to minimise the risk that a prisoner might commit
           further offences if released. Where appropriate, this can be done
           through offending behaviour programmes but this may not always be
           possible with lifers who deny their guilt. Denial in itself does not
           indicate an increase in risk above that which would be present for a
           prisoner who admits their offence. The problem posed by denial is that
           it may be harder to form a proper assessment of the factors
           contributing to their offending and so there may be less certainty about
           the level of their risk and the extent to which it has been reduced
           during their sentence. This is particularly the case as far as offending
           behaviour programmes are concerned. Programmes such as the Sex
           Offender Treatment Programme (SOTP) and Controlling Anger and
           Learning to Manage It (CALM) depend on an offender being willing to
           discuss their offences, either during the initial assessment stage or
           during the programme itself, and so are not open to individuals who
           deny their offences. This can make it more difficult to judge whether
           an individual’s level of risk has diminished. There is also the problem
           that many deniers refuse to undertake any offending behaviour work
           whether it involves discussing the index offence or not.

Amendment                                                     Issued 26/02/2002
PSO 4700                                                        Chapter 7 Page 6

7.2.4      However, the two cognitive skills programmes, Enhanced Thinking
           Skills and Reasoning & Rehabilitation, and work on addressing drug
           and alcohol problems do not require offenders to talk about their
           offences; so a prisoner who denies his guilt but is willing to take part in
           this work should be able to without difficulty. Assessment of the
           impact of their attendance on offending behaviour courses is
           measured through the use of psychometric tests. Such tests are
           carried out before and after the courses. If the tests show that the
           offender still possesses cognitive deficits, which can be shown to be
           linked to offending, then a clinical judgment can be made about the
           extent to which they are at risk of re-offending.

7.2.5      Although denial makes it harder to conduct a risk assessment, it
           should nevertheless still be possible to make one. This can be done,
           for example, by using police reports about the offence in combination
           with social history information, the prisoner’s performance in interview
           and his behaviour during sentence. By taking all this information into
           account, it should be possible to form some reasonable assessment of
           the factors that underlie the prisoner’s risk. Once the factors which
           underlie the lifer’s offending have been provisionally identified, it
           should be possible to judge how far these factors continue to be
           expressed in their current behaviour. On this basis, an assessment of
           whether the prisoner’s risk is increasing or declining can be made.

7.2.6      The assessment of the prisoner’s current level of risk must be the pre-
           eminent factor in determining whether he is ready to progress to lower
           security conditions or be released. Denial of guilt is only one element
           to be taken into account in reaching that decision.

7.2.7      Management of “deniers” in prison

           It is not at all uncommon for offenders, and especially sex offenders,
           at some point to deny the offences for which they have been
           convicted.      It is also true that a number of these individuals
           subsequently admit the offence. Approaches to addressing the
           offending behaviour of deniers vary because offending behaviour
           programmes differ in the extent to which they are able to treat those
           who refuse to admit their guilt.        Although the SOTP requires
           participants to discuss the offence for which they were convicted or
           the sexual elements of their offence, and is therefore not available to
           those who completely deny their offence, it can be undertaken by
           those who admit partial guilt. For example, those who concede that
           an incident took place but attempt to minimise their culpability.

Amendment                                                       Issued 26/02/2002
PSO 4700                                                       Chapter 7 Page 7

7.2.8      However, inevitably with many deniers the emphasis has to be on
           working on the offending behaviour identified in any pre-convictions
           and or other/identified problem behaviour, such as alcohol, drugs,
           anger, relationships, poor social skills.        For instance, although
           participants on the Controlling Anger and Learning to Manage It
           (CALM) programme are not expected to talk about their offending
           during the programme sessions they must do so during the
           assessment process. If they are not prepared to admit to their index
           offence there could be another offence to which they are prepared to
           acknowledge responsibility.        With the Cognitive Self Change
           Programme (CSCP), it is within the Treatment Manager’s discretion as
           to whether a denier should take part, based on their discussions with
           the individual. Neither Enhanced Thinking Skills (ETS) nor Reasoning
           and Rehabilitation (R&R) require participants to talk about their
           offences at any point so there is no barrier to deniers taking part.

7.2.9      Prison staff face a tremendously difficult task in managing lifers from
           day to day. Part of that task is to explore issues of motivation and the
           propensity of the lifer to commit serious crime in future. Ministers
           would feel very uneasy sanctioning release in any case in which it was
           felt that staff had at an early stage in the sentence simply accepted
           denial of guilt from a prisoner as the final word on the matter. But it is
           equally important that staff responsible for prisoners who deny their
           guilt do not lead them to believe that their denial will automatically
           prevent their progress and ultimate release. In that connection, it is
           important that report writers commenting on offending behaviour
           programme work always distinguish between cases of non-
           cooperation or refusal to participate by the prisoner and cases where
           the prisoner is excluded from courses on account of their denial. The
           real question should not be what offending behaviour work has been
           undertaken but what is the current level of risk.

7.2.10     There may be cases in which the nature of the index offence was such
           that the circumstances leading to it are very unlikely to be repeated.
           Or there may be factors about the offender's own circumstances at the
           time of release which allow Ministers or the Parole Board to conclude
           that the risk of future offending is acceptably small. Such factors may
           include, for example, ill health, incapacitation or genuine religious
           conversion (which may of course in itself be difficult to assess). It also
           has to be recognised that the existence of any of these factors does
           not necessarily preclude the risk of serious re-offending. Each case
           must be decided on its merits.

Amendment                                                      Issued 26/02/2002
PSO 4700                                                       Chapter 7 Page 8

7.2.11     The Prison Service accepts that the general presumption that the
           conviction was correct does not meet the case of the person who is
           genuinely innocent but who has exhausted all avenues of appeal
           without success. As indicated above, the key issue affecting a lifer’s
           progress is whether or not the risk he or she poses to the public is
           acceptably low.

7.2.12     Consideration by the Parole Board in denial of guilt cases

           The independent Parole Board is aware of the approach taken by the
           Prison Service and Ministers that denial of guilt is not an automatic bar
           to release. The Board does not ignore the possibility that the prisoner
           may be innocent, but its consideration too has to proceed on the
           presumption of guilt. However, the Board’s first duty is to assess the
           risk that a prisoner may commit further offences if he is released on
           parole or on life licence. For that reason it is unlawful for the Board to
           refuse to consider the question of release solely on the ground that the
           prisoner continues to deny guilt.

Amendment                                                      Issued 26/02/2002

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