London Probation Services
Domino-based application for assessing probation cases and sharing this information across five London (UK) Probation Services
Five separate London Probation Services manage approaching 20% of all probation work in England and Wales. This makes Greater London services the largest Probation Service in Europe, with thousands of offenders to manage. The services needed a risk management system that would provide a consistent process for the registration and review of offenders who were assessed as posing the highest risk of harm, and of communicating and making available that information to staff throughout the services.
Explains Peter Harraway, Chief Information Systems Officer for the Inner London Probation Service: "As an organisation, the Probation Service significantly contributes to public safety. Our best way to do that is to carefully assess the risk of harm an offender poses and, working with the police and other agencies, actively manage those at highest risk."
Working with developers i2N, the London Services have created a Lotus Domino-based application called the Public Protection Register. This ensures that all cases assessed as high risk of harm and supervised by the London Probation Services receive appropriate and regular evaluation. Harraway says that the Register helps in two ways. "First it ensures that probation officers, key agencies and the courts all know who the high-risk offenders are, and the nature of that risk. Secondly, it requires all to consider who else needs to be involved to manage the risk. Not every high-risk offender will remain so forever and the review process aims to ensure that the level of risk is regularly re-assessed, and cases removed if the risk lessens."
During the Register's first year of use in Inner London, 600 offenders were registered with 200 being removed. Several other Probation Services outside London are now taking up the system. And there are plans to extend its use into other agencies, with the proper security clearance, such as Local Police Services, the new multi-agency Youth Offending Teams and Social Services. Harraway sees this move as invaluable in promoting joint management of risk on a national basis.
The system has allowed the Services to increase significantly their focus on high-risk offenders. As Harraway says: "Through a more selective approach we are able to target resources on those offenders where risk is greatest and on managing those individuals, rather than spread ourselves too thinly." At the same time, Domino is delivering clear benefits to the Services in their day-to-day case management. Harraway agrees: "For Probation Services, the benefit of Lotus Domino and the Register has been in ensuring a consistent process with very clear accountability. Domino has very quickly transformed a large, bureaucratic organisation - we don't waste time with paper processes anymore."
And the Register has provided a platform to share internal expertise. Harraway explains: "In our previous, less open climate, each Probation Officer tended to keep their casenotes very much to themselves and their immediate superiors. But using Lotus Domino security, we've been able to broaden access to these casenotes between Probation Officers without compromising their overall security." Harraway makes an important point when he says: "In the end, risk assessment is a decision involving professional judgement. A computerised process will never replace face-to-face contact and reviews with offenders, or be more than an aid in the process we follow for evaluation, but Domino has proved a very significant tool in that process."
Concludes Harraway: "High-risk offenders are now more closely monitored, and cases appropriately reviewed by managers who can track what's happening. We have improved communication, knowledge, accountability and consistency, and that is key to enhancing our capabilities in managing risk effectively and safely."