2021-22 Annual Report Published
Today, we’re pleased to publish our 2021-22 Annual Report which outlines our achievements over the past year. Our work at the RMA is centred on protecting the public, by reducing the risk of serious harm posed by violent and sexual offending. Over the last year, we’ve completed some significant projects that contribute to protecting the public and making Scotland safer.
Mark McSherry, Chief Executive, commented:
“The past year has been exceptionally busy for us at the RMA, and I’m grateful to the team who have continued to deliver outstanding work in protecting the public and taking forward our long-term plans for change in the justice system.
Take a look at our Annual Report and Accounts to see the work we’ve completed this year around evidence-based research, contributing to public protection policy and the administration of the Order for Lifelong Restriction sentence. I look forward to continuing to work with our partners across the justice system to work towards a safer Scotland.”
Accreditation of Risk Assessors for the High Court
In 2021-22 we implemented a new accreditation process to recruit experienced and qualified risk assessors to become Accredited. Accredited Risk Assessors carry out Risk Assessment Reports (RAR) for the high court when an OLR is being considered, it’s a vital role within the Scottish justice system. Our accreditation process is designed to be as supportive and facilitative as possible. We’re pleased to have nine individuals proceed to the interview stage for this highly complex, specialised role, and five new Assessors have been Accredited. We recently held an Assessors’ Day at the RMA office, and our OLR Lead Ross Pollock has written about what the day entailed, read his blog here.
Developing our Training and Education Strategy
The RMA is national authority on risk assessment and management in Scotland. We’re proud that our training and education resources help to improve knowledge, confidence and skills for practitioners working with individuals who engage in offending behaviour. Over the course of 2021-22 we delivered our training courses via online platforms. Our Effective Practice Lead (Acting), Julie Webber, has written about the challenges and benefits of adapting and delivering our training in this way, read her blog here. Our Training and Education Strategy continues to be in development over the course of 2022-23. When we implement it, it’ll be accompanied by an eight-year plan for delivery.
“I believe that the delivery of the course in a condensed one-day format via MS Teams worked really well. Whilst there was a lot of information and theory to impart to students, it never felt rushed or that content was diluted.”
– Brian Sutherland, Trainer – Police Scotland
Pilot of our Internet Offending Framework
As the prevalence of internet offending continues to grow, justice partners have expressed concerns about the challenge this presents in terms of risk assessment and management. Following publication of a comprehensive literature review on internet offending, we formed and chaired a multi-agency working group to support the development of a risk assessment process for those convicted of offending relating to indecent images of children (IIOC). In 2021-22 we began a pilot of the framework developed with eight local authorities across Scotland. The pilot will evaluate the reliability, validity and usefulness of the framework.
“Having sat on the working group and now being part of the pilot roll out, is both exciting and hugely motivating. Seeing the work come to fruition while also being able to play a role in the development and implementation of risk focused frameworks and risk assessment tools for use in Scotland is fantastic.”
– Lucy Coleman, Team Manager, Tay Project & Caledonian Delivery Team, Community Justice Services
The Offending Behaviour of Those Sentenced to the Order for Lifelong Restriction
At the RMA we have specific legislative responsibilities in relation to the administration of the Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR) sentence. We have a duty to increase understanding of the sentence and how it works. This year we’re proud to have published our first in a series of research publications exploring the offending behaviour of the OLR population. ‘The Offending Behaviour of Those Sentenced to the Order for Lifelong Restriction’ looks at 202 individuals who are subject to the sentence; chapters include an analysis of those with intimate partner violence (IPV) convictions and those who received the sentence under the age of 21. Our Head of Development, Geoff Tordzro-Taylor, writes about some of the interesting findings of the report including the extent of offending within the population, read his blog here.
Responding to Scottish Government Consultations
This year we responded to two significant and relevant consultations. The National Care Service Consultation is the biggest social work and social care policy change in a generation. We attended a series of engagement events and conducted research to inform our response. We are generally supportive of the creation of a National Care Service (NCS), and in our response we are clear that the creation of an NCS itself will not solve all the current challenges in the sector. We call for stronger leadership and more efficient use of resources within justice social work.
In our response to the Bail and Release from Custody Consultation, we lay out in detail the importance of an evidence-based and proportionate approach to risk assessment and risk management in Scotland. We welcomed the consultation and throughout our response we advocate for a justice system in Scotland that is human rights focused; where prison is reserved only for those who have been assessed to pose a risk of serious harm to public safety.
Overseeing the Order for Lifelong Restriction
The OLR is designed to protect the public from the risk of serious harm. It’s a unique, risk-based sentence that provides for lifelong management of individuals who engage in violent and sexual offending behaviour. In 2021-22, fifteen OLR sentences were imposed by the high court. Twelve of these index offences were of a sexual nature, with the other three of a violent nature. In 2021-22 the number of active OLR sentences increased to 217, a 6% increase from the previous year.
Paul Keoghan, Director of Corporate Services, added:
“Over 2021-22 the RMA have continued to deliver excellent value for the Scottish Government, delivering its statutory functions while maintaining appropriate governance controls. I am pleased that our Annual Report and Accounts evidenced the significant achievements and contributions of the organisation.”