Strategy for the production of Pre-Sentence Reports across NPS London
The revised Probation Instruction ‘Determining Reports for Court’ supports the national move towards producing a greater number of Pre-Sentence Reports as ‘Short Format Reports’. This is due to be published Autumn 2015, NPS London is working towards this model of practice. The direction of travel was previously set by PI 05/2011 and the new PI builds on practice that is already underway.
The PI will change the language of Pre-Sentence Reports introducing the use of Short Format Reports (SFRs) to enable the NPS to increase the efficiency with which reports are provided to Court and to allow the flexibility to use staff resources to meet the demands from Court under the Transforming Summary Justice (TSJ) agenda. SFRs replace both fast delivery reports (FDRs) and oral reports. The expectation is that the report will be delivered in the most effective manner to support safe sentencing. The current FDR and oral Report templates should continue to be used in the interim.
HMCTS and Magistrates welcome the direction of travel of the PI. The demands on Courts are increasing and they want to receive succinct reports delivered orally on the day where possible. Only where the Court requires a dangerousness assessment or in cases of very high risk should a standard delivery report be provided and a full OASys assessment. Prompt sentencing is also in many cases better for victims as it facilitates a speedy resolution to what can be protracted proceedings.
These developments take into account the following interdependencies:
- changes in Court practices
- demands of TSJ and better case management at Crown Courts; the changes in the nature of the NPS workload
- increasing demands on field PO’s in terms of caseload, parole reports, oral hearings and additional tasks
- use of standard delivery reports and their place within the contractual arrangements between NPS and CRC;
- the purpose of sentencing as set out in the new Probation Instruction
- the balance of the work between pre and post sentence elements of an offender journey.
The following set of principles are to be applied across London Courts:
1. Courts to make every effort to complete reports on the day as an oral report.
2. Where the report can only be delivered in writing, because additional third party information is required or as a result of sensitivity around the case, this should be undertaken as a short format report in 0 – 5 working days.
3.This approach applies to both Magistrates and Crown Courts. All Courts are required to complete as much work as possible as ‘on the day’ reports. Additionally Courts are required to work as a national organisation and all work should be prioritised, regardless of the address of the offender.
4. Only those offences which require a dangerousness assessment or are high risk of harm, are done with a full Layer 3 OASys and in SDR format. All other adjourned reports are completed as short format reports with a Layer 1 OASys and an RSR/CAS, including a full ROSH analysis where one is triggered.
5. If a Layer 3 OASys assessment already exists, a Layer 3 assessment should be pulled through selecting "PSR other offences committed" as the purpose; updating Section 1 (Offending Information/OGRS), Section 2 (Offence Analysis), RoSH screening and the RoSH full analysis (if required).
6. Where the enablers for a report on the day are not present (i.e. DV call out information), and a report needs to be adjourned, where appropriate the report will be written as a short format report for workload management purposes, with additional time allocated if needed.
7. NPS Court staff must initiate safeguarding checks regarding children and adults where appropriate. It may not be required to adjourn sentence until the outcome of the checks is known as safeguarding work continues ihto the supervision of the order, the determining factor will be the offence type and if the outcome could significantly alter the sentence. The Court should be made aware if information is not yet received and a record made in CAS.
8. If an officer considers that a report merits a full SDR with associated OASys, they should consult their SPO. These should be reserved for high-risk cases.
9. Reports continue to be completed by the appropriate grade of staff (i.e. PO’s for HIGH risk cases, Sex Offences, Serious Violence – the guidelines for this do not change from those currently in place).
10. For this approach to be effective and for providers to receive the necessary information they need to manage their cases we MUST ensure that where triggered in the CAS or where the offender is deemed MEDIUM risk of harm a FULL RISK OF SERIOUS HARM (Risk Sections R1 to R10 in OASys) is completed. Check the OASys override (in the screening) – i.e. the bit that makes defensible decision not to complete full analysis.
The allocation of Reports to Sessional report authors should follow the same principles as outlined in this document and attract the appropriate remuneration.
Longer term position:
➢ The PI for Report Determination is due out later this year and will reinforce this position.
➢ There will be a standard nDelius report template for use in all Courts nationally. This will be one template which can be adapted for use as an oral, short format. The current template in nDelius is sufficient at present for use across NPS London. Standard delivery reports will continue to be completed in OASys.
➢ Community cases allocated to the NPS continue to require an OASys Initial Sentence Plan within 10 days of attendance at an initial appointment.
➢ Resourcing of Courts remains a key priority within NPS London and across the NPS.