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Tag: Probation

Supervision in the community (after release from prison and on probation or community order)

This page is for information only. We are unable to provide advice on this. For reasons why, click here.


This information responds to a number of queries we’ve started receiving about serving sentences in the community. This isn’t a core area that Unlock can provide advice on, but we thought it would be helpful to explain the changes that took place in early 2015, and to outline how these might have an impact on people with convictions serving their sentence in the community.

Why is this important?

On 1st February 2015, the Offender Rehabilitation Act (ORA) came into force. The Act provides that all those released from short prison sentences will now first be subject to a standard licence period for the remainder of their prison sentence to be served in the community, and then be subject to an additional supervision period.

The Government estimates that some 50,000 individuals will ‘benefit’ from this additional support and that it will help to tackle high reoffending rates.

The new legislation applies to individuals:-

  • Whose offence was committed on or after the 1st February 2015
  • Who were sentenced to a prison term of more than 1 day
  • Who will be 18 years or over when released

How will the changes affect individuals serving prison sentences?

Reduction of unconditional releases

Previously, adults serving prison sentences of less than 12 months were released unconditionally after one half of their sentence had been served.

Under the ORA, adults serving prison sentences of less than 12 months, for an offence committed after 1 February 2015, will be released on licence after serving one half of their sentence in prison and will serve the remaining period in the community.

Introduction of a new supervision period for 12 months after release

The ORA also introduced a new period of post sentence supervision for anybody sentenced to less than 2 years in prison.

Those sentenced to less than 2 years and released on licence (as outlined above), will be subject to an additional period of supervision (for the purposes of rehabilitation), once their licence period comes to an end. The licence and supervision period will together add up to 12 months.

Depending on the length of the prison sentence, the length of the supervision period can vary significantly.

Example 1

Person A is sentenced to two months in prison. He serves one month in prison, one month on licence and received an additional 11 months post sentence supervision to make a total of 12 months.

Example 2

Person B is sentenced to 18 months in prison. He serves 9 months of this sentence in prison and is then released to serve the remaining 9 months in the community on license. In addition, after his 18 month sentence comes to an end, he receives a further 3 months supervision in the community.

Example 3

Person C has served 6 months on remand. At trial, he is sentenced to 6 months in prison. He is released immediately, and then receives a further 12 months supervision.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, these include:-

  • Those sentenced to 1 day and who are therefore not taken into prison, for example, fine defaulters
  • Those aged under 18 on the last day of their prison sentence
  • Those who committed the offence before 1st February 2015.

What do supervision requirements include?

  • A requirement to be of good behaviour and not to behave in a way which undermines the purpose of the supervision period
  • A requirement not to commit any further offence
  • A requirement to keep in touch with the supervisor in accordance with the instructions of the supervisor
  • A requirement to reside permanently at an address approved by the supervisor and to obtain the prior permission of the supervisor for any stay of one or more nights at a different address
  • A requirement not to undertake work, or a particular type of work, unless it is approved by the supervisor and to notify the supervisor in advance of any proposal to undertake work or a particular type of work
  • A requirement not to travel outside the British Islands, except with prior permission of the supervisor or in order to comply with a legal obligation
  • A requirement to participate in activities in accordance with any instructions given by a supervisor
  • A drug testing requirement (for individuals with problematic drug use)
  • A drug appointment requirement (for individuals with problematic drug use)

What happens if I breach a requirement?

Breaches during the standard licence period are dealt with by the National Probation Service who have the discretion to consider the following courses of action:-

  • Issuing a warning to the individual
  • Asking the Prison Governor for a variation in licence conditions (for example by adding a curfew or imposing electronic monitoring)
  • Recalling an individual to prison

Anybody who breaches the requirements of the new supervision period will be taken back to court. The court will then have the power to impose the following sanctions:-

  • A fine
  • Unpaid work
  • A curfew
  • A return to prison

Those being returned to prison will generally be recalled for an automatic period of 14 days (as opposed to 28 days for those with longer sentences) but, where there is assessed to be a risk of serious harm to the public, individuals can be recalled until the end of their sentence.

If the breach constitutes a criminal offence which leads to another conviction, a further sentence will be given.

Who is responsible for supervision?

The Offender Rehabilitation Act accompanied the new Transforming Rehabilitation Programme which saw 35 Probation Trusts abolished and replaced by a National Probation Service (NPS) and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC’s). These CRC’s manage approximately 70% of the supervision for less serious individuals while the remaining 30% (considered more serious) are managed by the NPS. The assessment of risk (i.e. low, medium or high) is made by the NPS.

Supervision for individuals serving community orders or suspended sentences

For individuals serving a community order or suspended sentence, the Offender Rehabilitation Act has created a new Rehabilitative Activity Requirement which replaces the previous ‘activity’ and ‘supervision’ requirement.

Rehabilitation Activity Requirements can include:-

  • Instructions to participate in specified activities
  • Instructions to go to a specified place
  • Activities that form part of an accredited programme
  • Activities with a reparative purpose, such as restorative justice.

An activity is considered a restorative justice activity if:-

  • The participants consist of, or include, the ‘offender’ and one or more victims
  • The aim of the activity is to maximise the individuals awareness of the impact of the offending concerned on the victims
  • The activity gives a victim or victims an opportunity to talk about, or otherwise express experience of, the offending and its impact

A court will determine which requirements to impose in a community order or suspended sentence order taking into consideration the advice in any Pre-Sentence Report.

When considering the content of a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, the National Probation Service must identify and pay proper regard to the rehabilitative and criminogenic needs of individuals, as well as an assessment of their offending behaviour and associated risks. For further information see PI58/2014

Each Community Rehabilitation Company will make information available to the NPS about what rehabilitative services are available in their contract package and this will shape the advice the NPS gives to the courts on sentencing. This means that rehabilitation activity requirements are likely to vary from one contract package area to another.

More information

  1. For practical information – More information on community order and suspended prison sentences
  2. To discuss this with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  3. Questions – If you have any questions about this you can contact our helpline.


Community order

This is part of our information section on understanding your criminal record.


Who is it issued by and how can I contact them?

Issued by the court – contact the relevant court.

Does it involve guilt?


Is it recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC)?


Is it classed as a conviction?


How long will it be on my record?

It will remain on the PNC indefinitely and can still be mentioned in future criminal proceedings even after it has become spent.

When does it become spent?

At the end of the order.

When do I have to declare it?

You do not have to declare it after it is spent except for an occupation exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, like working with children. Before it is spent you do need to declare it, when asked, to employers, insurers and others.

Is it disclosed on DBS checks?

Yes, it be disclosed on both standard and enhanced checks unless it is eligible for filtering. Once it becomes spent, it won’t be disclosed on a basic check.

What guidance is there on fair process?

The Sentencing Council provide guidelines on community sentences to try and ensure uniformity in sentencing.

Do I have the right to appeal and what is the process?

All appeals about the handling of your case by Probation, should be made to the relevant National Probation Service office. If you are still not satisfied your complaint has been dealt with, contact the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman who have a legal responsibility to investigate all complaints.

What are the implications for life in the community?

A community sentence is managed by the probation service and can involve a range of requirements and programmes. Breaking the terms of your order can result in a return to court or prison.

What can it include?

Community orders, sometimes referred to as community sentences, allow judges or magistrates to tailor a sentence. The sentence is served in the community under the supervision of a Probation Trust and should be considered a punishment, in that it may restrict your movements and activity, as well as encouraging attendence at activities or treatment-based interventions that are rehabilitative in nature.

Sentencers can impose several different conditions, or ‘requirements’ on the order. There are a total of twelve different requirements although an offender would not have all the requirements attached to their order. Less serious offences would generally carry only one or two whereas a more serious offence may have three or more elements to the order.

The requirements are as follows:

Supervision – by a Probation Trust. This is where you’ll have to attend regular meetings with a probation officer who will undertake work with you to change attitudes and behaviour.

Unpaid Work/Community Payback – up to a maximum of 300 hours set work performed for the benefit of the community.

Curfew –where you can be ordered to stay within the confines of your home during certain hours of the day for up to six months. The curfew can be for up to 12 hours within a 24 hour period. Curfews are usually electronically monitored.

Accredited Programmes – designed to address behavioural issues such as general offending, violence, sex offending, drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence and drink impaired driving. May be group based or one-to-one.

Specified Activities – for example improving basic skills, or undertaking reparative work.

Prohibition – from undertaking certain activities. For example attending football matches, public houses or shopping centres.

Exclusion – where you can be excluded from entering certain areas for up to two years.

Residence – where you have to live at a certain address for example approved premises such as a hostel or a private address.

Mental Health Treatment – this can only be imposed with your consent and is done under the direction of a doctor or psychologist.

Drug Rehabilitation – this includes testing and treatment and can also only be imposed with your consent. This is designed to reduce or eliminate your dependency on drugs.

Attendance Centre – where you (up to the age of 25) are required to attend a particular centre at a certain time for between 12 – 36 hours during your sentence.

Alcohol Treatment – this can only be imposed with your consent and lasts up to three years. This is designed to reduce or eliminate your dependency on alcohol.

These requirements are also available to the courts when a suspended sentence is imposed.

Understanding your licence conditions


Often, with hindsight, people released from prison say that they thought prison would be the hard bit, when in fact it was after prison that they really started encountering problems.

Being released from prison can be a daunting experience. Being released on licence can be even worse.

Given the way that the current legislative/sentencing regime operates, most people being released from prison are released in advance of the point that they were sentenced to serve by the judicial system. This means that there is a large number of people being released from prison “on licence”.

For additional information about supervision in the community after release from prison see here.

We are unable to provide specific legal advice around your own situation, i.e. when your licence should end, when you can be recalled, how you can be recalled, etc.

Licence conditions

If you were sentenced to more than 12 months in prison,but less than four years, you may be released early on licence.

You will also have a licence if you’re out of prison on a home detention curfew (on a tag). Being on licence means that you are still serving a prison sentence but you can live in the community instead of being in prison. Whilst you are on licence, there are rules you must follow. How long these rules apply for depends on the length of your sentence. If you break the rules, you’ll have to go back to prison (be recalled).

Who determines standard determinate sentence licence conditions?

The Parole Board is no longer involved in imposing licence conditions. Governors now have responsibility for including any additional conditions though these must be from the approved list and recommended by Probation. If Probation want to add a condition not listed or a governor is concerned about the need for additional conditions they must seek advice from the Public Protection Unit. The licence is prepared by Custody/Discipline office and should be explained to you at least one week before release.

What if I refuse to sign the licence?

The licence remains lawful irrespective of whether you sign it. If you refuse to sign it, the governor will sign to confirm the conditions have been read out and explained. A copy is given to you on release and further copies are kept on your records at the prison and sent to the police.

How can I challenge my licence conditions?

A complaint about the necessity or proportionality of additional licence conditions imposed can be considered by the Prison and Probation Ombudsman. You will first have to complain internally through Prison/Probation.

Are life licence conditions different?

Life sentence conditions are set by the Parole Board but are very similar to the standard conditions. Additional conditions can also be imposed and again are likely to be similar to those on standard determinate sentences.

As a lifer, will I be on licence for ever?

Although the life licence remains in force and you are liable to recall for the rest of your life, you can apply to the Secretary of State (via request to Probation) and request that, as the conditions are no longer necessary, they are cancelled. The supervision or reporting restrictions normally remain in force for around 4 years, though this can be up to 10 years for people convicted of sexual offences, and can remain in force for longer or shorter periods depending on your own case. The Secretary of State will normally refer the case to the Parole Board before cancelling the supervision requirements. Even where there are no longer any supervision requirements you can be recalled for committing other offences etc

Useful resources

Licences and licence conditions (Prison Service Instruction 12/2015) – This explains the various conditions that can be attached to a licence.

Standard conditions of licence

The Criminal Justice (Sentencing) (Licence Conditions) Order 2005 (Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 648) below sets out the standards conditions. An explanatory note for the SI is also available.

(1) The conditions set out in paragraph (2) are the standard conditions prescribed for the purposes of section 250 (1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

(2) The prisoner must-

(a) keep in touch with the responsible officer as instructed by him;

(b) receive visits from the responsible officer as instructed by him;

(c) permanently reside at an address approved by the responsible officer and obtain the prior permission of the responsible officer for any stay of one or more nights at a different address;

(d) undertake work (including voluntary work) only with the approval of the responsible officer and obtain his prior approval in relation to any change in the nature of that work;

(e) not travel outside the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man without the prior permission of the responsible officer, except where he is deported or removed from the United Kingdom in accordance with the Immigration Act 1971 or the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 [See Article 3 Explanatory note];

(f) be of good behaviour, and not behave in a way which undermines the purposes of the release on licence, which are to protect the public, prevent re-offending and promote successful re-integration into the community;

(g) not commit any offence.

As well as these standard rules, your probation officer might have recommended extra conditions, like not making contact with certain people or not living at the same address as children. Your licence will say what the extra conditions are. If you have to miss an appointment with your probation officer, it’s important to be able to show them proof of the reason. For example, if you are ill, get a doctor’s note. Examples of conditions are listed below:

(1) Conditions of a kind set out in paragraph (2) are prescribed for the purposes of section 250(2)(b)(ii) and (4) (b) (ii) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

(2) The conditions are those which impose on a prisoner:

(a) a requirement that he reside at a certain place;

(b) a requirement relating to his making or maintaining contact with a person;

(c) a restriction relating to his making or maintaining contact with a person;

(d) a restriction on his participation in, or undertaking of, an activity;

(e) a requirement that he participate in, or co-operate with, a programme or set of activities designed to further one or more of the purposes referred to in section 250(8) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003;

(f) a requirement that he comply with a curfew arrangement;

(g) a restriction on his freedom of movement (which is not a requirement referred to in sub-paragraph (f));

(h) a requirement relating to his supervision in the community by a responsible officer.

(3) For the purpose of this article, “curfew arrangement” means an arrangement under which a prisoner is required to remain at a specified place for a specified period of time which is not an arrangement contained in a condition imposed by virtue of section 37A(1) [See Article 3 Explanatory note] of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 Act or section 250(5) of the Act.

You can apply to your probation officer to change your conditions. For example, if a curfew would mean that you can’t take up a suitable job, the hours of your curfew could be changed.

Supervision and support whilst on licence

You should be allocated a supervising probation officer who will supervise you on release. The supervising officer must ensure that a first appointment is arranged for the day of release (or next working day).

It is stated in PSO 4700 that the supervising probation officer has to ensure that arrangements are made for weekly contact for the first four weeks following release. In addition one contact has to be a visit to the home address within 10 days of release. Contact should comprise a minimum of fortnightly for the second and third months following release and thereafter monthly.


You won’t be considered for early release until you have a suitable address. This could be with friends or family or at a hostel. You might get help from the council to pay for your accommodation. You aren’t allowed to move without permission from your probation officer.


You aren’t allowed to take a job unless your probation officer approves of it. There are rules about declaring your criminal record when you apply for a job. For some jobs, such as working with children, disabled people or other vulnerable people, you’ll always have to declare all your criminal convictions.

It is stated in the Lifer Manual that the supervising probation officer must consider advising certain third parties of the nature of the offence and implications of the supervision process including conditions. In the case of partners, employers, educational providers and accommodation suppliers the presumption is in favour of disclosure. The preferred approach is for the licensee to disclose this information themselves.


There is a presumption in favour of disclosure by probation to partners of the licensee.


The prison isn’t responsible for your healthcare if you’re serving your sentence in the community. Unless getting treatment is one of your conditions, it’s up to you to get any healthcare you need. When you leave prison, it’s a good idea to register with a GP.

Travelling abroad whilst on licence

You have to get permission to travel abroad, and all people on licence face restrictions on travelling abroad whilst on licence supervision in the community. We have put together some information for people in this situation within our section on travel abroad.

If you break the rules – Recall

You can be sent back to prison if you break the rules.

First of all, your probation officer will look at your case. They might give you a warning or they might decide you should go back to prison. If they think you should go back to prison, they’ll ask the Ministry of Justice to order you to return to prison. This decision can be taken very quickly – in emergency cases, the decision can be taken within two hours. You’ll be arrested and taken straight to prison. This would usually be your local prison, not necessarily the one you were released from.

If you committed another criminal offence while you were out on licence, you’ll go to court for that offence. If you’re found guilty, the new sentence will be added on to your old sentence.

If you’re sent back to prison for breaking your conditions, you should get legal advice as soon as possible. You might get Legal Aid.

A licence can be revoked at any time and the licensee recalled to prison by the Secretary of State on the recommendation of the parole board. If the licence is revoked, the licensee is immediately recalled to prison to continue her life sentence. The licensee must be informed of the reasons for the revocation of the licence and has the right to make representations to the Parole Board in an oral hearing.

In deciding whether to recommend the recall of a lifer the Parole Board should consider:

  1. whether the licensee’s continued liberty would present a risk to the safety of the public and if the licensee is likely to commit further imprisonable offences;
  2. the extent to which the licensee has failed to comply with the conditions of the life licence and otherwise failed to cooperate with the supervising officer;
  3. whether the licensee is likely to comply with the conditions of the licence and supervision if allowed to remain in the community.

The Parole Board take account of the supervising officer’s recommendation as to whether the licensee should remain on licence.

Problems if you’re sent back to prison

You may have problems if you’re sent back to prison, for example:

  • there’s a delay before the prison gets information about you
  • you don’t how long you’ll have to stay in prison. However, you should be given an information pack explaining how to appeal to the Parole Board
  • if you’re not sent back to the same prison, you may not know how the prison works. However any differences between the prison where you used to be and your current prison should be explained to you
  • you may lose your right to Housing Benefit after 13 weeks of being back in prison.

If you aren’t sure why you’ve been taken back to prison or if you have any other problems, get specialist advice.

Other information

In order for the conditions to be lawful they must be both necessary and proportionate to the needs of protecting the public and preventing  re-offending. Necessary means that no other means of managing a particular risk is available or appropriate; and proportionate means that the restriction on the offender’s liberty is the minimum required to manage the risk.

Licence conditions are not designed to be punitive, and are designed for risk management and public protection purposes, see R (on the Application of Carman) -v- Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] EWHC 2400 (Admin). Further, they are subject to the scrutiny of the Administrative Court by way of Judicial Review due to the principles of reasonableness, necessity and proportionality.

Further, they may infringe an offender’s Human Rights and the most typical is their right to a private and family life pursuant to Article 8 (1) ECHR. The State is entitled to interfere with Article 8 rights in accordance with Article 8(2), so long as it is in pursuance of legitimate aims, but only if reasonable and proportionate to those aims.

Thus, providing the proposed conditions correspond with a legitimate purpose, any corresponding interference with the Claimant’s Article 8 rights will be justified so long as that interference is reasonable and proportionate to the stated Purpose. Once again these issues can be resolved in the Administrative Court. If an offender breaches the terms of their licence, they render themselves liable to be returned to prison and will not be released unless the Parole Board directs it. The power to recall lies with Probation Service therefore it is essential that the conditions in place are necessary, proportionate to manage risk.


Complaints about probation

Aim of this page

This page is intended to help you if you are having difficulties with probation. It provides information about how to complain if you’re not happy about the way you have been treated. For example, maybe you feel like your probation officer is not meeting what is expected of them, or maybe you have tried changing probation officers or transferring probation areas and have come up against unnecessary barriers.

Why is this important?

People working for the National Probation Service (NPS) or a Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) will often make decisions or take actions which you may not agree with.

Although sometimes these will be necessary, there will also be occasions when members of staff fail to do something that they should do, make unjustified decisions or take inappropriate action.

If this happens, it’s important to know how you can make a complaint.


In 2015, as part of the government’s ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ strategy, the 35 Probation Trusts in England and Wales were replaced with the National Probation Service (NPS) who are responsible for supervising high-risk individuals and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC’s) supervising those people deemed to be low to medium risk of re-offending.

The 21 CRC’s are all private companies responsible for their own management and staff and as such, will have different policies and practices around dealing with complaints from service users.

Concerns have been raised recently about the number of CRC’s who do not provide ready access to their complaints procedures making it difficult for service users to know how to complain. An example of one CRC who do publish details is London CRC whose complaints leaflet can be found here.

Who can make a complaint?

To be considered, your complaint must relate to the conduct or competence of an employee or employees of the NPS or the CRC, or an agency employee or employees working for the NPS or the CRC, with respect to the delivery of probation services. This includes their actions and decisions or failures to act or decide.

They will consider your complaint if:

  • You are or have been under the supervision of the NPS or CRC
  • You have been or are about to be the subject of a report for use by a court.
  • You have suffered physical injury, distress, theft or damage to property as a result of the actions of an offender carrying out activities under probation supervision as part of a community order or a prison licence.
  • You are a victim of a person convicted of an offence who is under the supervision of the NPS or CRC
  • You are a parent, spouse or a live-in partner, brother, sister or child of a person, in the above categories, who has died.

They can’t look into something that is already being investigated by the police or subject to a decision of the courts, statutory tribunal, Parole Board, Crown Prosecution Service or the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

Your complaint won’t normally be considered if it is about something that happened more than 12 months ago, or that you could have known about a year ago.

Who do I complain to?

In the first instance, you either complain to the NPS or to the CRC.

Details of NPS offices and contact details can be found in the Probation Directory: National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies. A map of the NPS divisions can be found here.

Complaining informally

Wherever possible, it’s always best to try to reach an amicable solution with the person involved and doing this face-to-face or over the telephone can work well. If this is difficult, ask to discuss it with a more senior member of staff.

It’s probably worth noting that it can be easier for staff to avoid dealing with a complaint that hasn’t been put in writing so don’t be surprised if you don’t get the response you’re looking for at this time.

You may still be able to have your complaint dealt with informally by either putting it in writing to the staff member involved or, their manager. If they feel you’re complaint is justified, the probation area/CRC will often prefer to deal with it at this stage.

Making a formal complaint

If you receive no response to your informal complaint or you’re not satisfied with it, you can make a formal complaint in writing.

  1. If you’re making a complaint about an NPS staff member, this should be signed by you and sent it to the probation area’s Deputy Director.
  2. If you are making a complaint about a CRC staff member, this should be addressed to the Chief Executive.

Within five working days of receiving your letter you should receive a response explaining how your complaint will be handled. He or she will give the date when you can expect the outcome.

The Deputy Director or Chief Executive will nominate a person to investigate. The complaint will be investigated and the outcome, with reasons, sent to you in writing within 25 days of the acknowledgement of the complaint.

Details of the Probation Standard Complaints Procedure (PI51/2014) can be found here.

What should you include in your complaint letter?

When making a complaint you should ensure that you explain very clearly what happened and why you are complaining, enclosing any evidence that you believe will add weight to your complaint. You may also wish to consider including some of the following:

  • Where and when did it happen?
  • Who was involved?
  • What was said and done?
  • Were there any witnesses to what happened, if so who?

If you are not satisfied with the outcome

If you are not happy with the response, you can appeal within 20 working days of receiving the outcome. You will need to write to the Probation Area’s Deputy Director or the Chief Executive of the CRC explaining why you want to appeal. Your letter should be acknowledged within five working days of receiving it.

The Deputy Director or Chief Executive will convene an appeal panel of at least 3 people to include senior staff who have not been involved in the subject of the complaint or the investigation. They may ask to meet you and the investigating officer to determine whether the original investigation was sufficient and reasonable. The outcome will be sent to you within 20 working days of receipt of the appeal. The panel will let you know if they need longer to make a decision.

If you have taken these steps and are still unsatisfied with the decision

You can write to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman within one month of your appeal decision if you have:

  • Been under the supervision of the National Probation Service.
  • Been housed in probation accommodation.
  • Had a report prepared about you for use by a court.

The PPO will respond to the complainant within 10 days, informing you of whether or not your complaint has been accepted. If a complaint is not accepted, an explanation as to why will be given.

If a complaint is accepted, it will be allocated to an investigator who will contact the complainant directly.

The investigator will first consider if there is a way of resolving the complaint without a full investigation. If so, the investigator will contact the complainant and the Area Probation Board to try to negotiate a settlement. If a settlement is not possible, a full investigation will be started.

The PPO aims to deal with any complaint within 12 weeks of starting the investigation.

If your complaint is not upheld, you will receive a letter with a detailed explanation of the findings of the investigation and the specific reasons why the PPO have not upheld the complaint.

If the complaint is upheld, the investigator will write to you, setting out the details, the findings and the conclusions. The PPO may also make certain recommendations to the Probation Area against whom the complaint was brought to help them ensure the problem does not occur again.

If the complaint warrants it, the PPO will write a full report. A draft copy of this report will be sent to you and to the Probation Area against whom the complaint was brought, to check that the details of the complaint are accurate. Once confirmed, a final copy of the report will be sent to both parties.

Discuss this with others

Read and share your experiences on our online forum.

Useful links

Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page. More specific details (including addresses and telephone numbers) of some of the organisations listed below can be found here.

  • National Probation Service – The NPS is a statutory criminal justice service that supervises high-risk offenders released into the community
  • Prison and Probation Ombudsman – Carry out independent investigations into complaints about the National Probation Service, CRC’s and prisons.

More information

  1. For practical information – More information can be found on our probation section
  2. To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  3. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

Get involved

Help us to add value to this information. You can:

  1. Comment on this page (below)
  2. Send your feedback directly to us
  3. Discuss your views and experiences on our online forum

This page was last fully reviewed and updated in July 2017. If you’ve spotted something that needs updating, please let us know by emailing the details to


Changing probation area

The process of how the Probation Service handle “Case Transfers” between probation areas is set out in Probation Instruction 17/2010 (Case Transfers). In particular, this sets out how the Probation Service will deal with such queries.

In the above Circular, it provides details of different responses by Probation depending on whether somebody has simply notified a change of address (as per licence or community order restrictions) or whether they have requested permission.

However, given that it is not possible for some individuals to simply notify a change of address, for example those convictions of certain offences, our advice would be that, if you wish to change Probation Area, you put this request in writing to your Probation Officer and ask for a response back in writing.

If you are moving probation area, both the sending and receiving probation area have to agree, and getting approval is not an automatic right. One difficulty is that a probation area doesn’t always have to take a referral. This is particularly likely to be the case where someone might need a lot of supervision and use a lot of resources.

Sometimes, a probation officer might transfer supervision to another area to help with managing the sentence or because there is a need for someone to be in particular kind of accommodation not available in their local area. There are a number of transfers every year and many people move addresses during their sentence. Any transfer has to be consistent with the sentence plan though.

Sometimes a probation officer will assess that someone needs to move aea because of the risk to a victim or high profile media or public concerns. A MAPPA meeting might also decide that someone could be moved because their risk could be better managed elsewhere.

If you are thinking of moving to another area after prison, and you will be on licence, apply as soon as you can, as this can take time. Make sure you have proof of your connection with the area you want to move to. Try and speak to your outside probation officer as the process might be easier if they support your move. Remember than transfers are not automatic, and can be turned down if the risk assessment is too high.

Your local Probation Area are entitled to refuse a transfer as part of their broad discretion. This was upheld in the case of R (Francis) v West Midlands Probation Board [2010] EWCA Civ 1470. In this case, the individual was serving a life sentence and had been supervised by West Midlands Probation Service since 1983. While in prison, he established a relationship with a woman who lived in the area where he wished to be transferred. However, this was refused, and it was held that Probation had not misdirected itself in law or unlawfully interfered with the individuals rights under Article 8 of the ECHR (the right to a family life).

If you have applied to another area and this has not been accepted, there is a right of appeal.

Changing probation officer

There is no standard policy or protocol governing transfers within a Probation area. However, as detailed in Probation Instruction 17/2010 – Case Transfers, which covers transfers between Probation Areas, it is expected that there should be clarity of responsibility for supervision, and the National Probation Service recommends that Areas develop their own local policies and protocols governing transfers based on the Circular.

As a result, if you wish to change your Probation Officer, you should ask to see a copy of your Areas local policy, and then put a request in writing to your Probation Officer.



The Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000, in conjunction with the Criminal Justice Act 2003, imposed duties on the police, probation and prison services to make arrangements for the identification, risk assessment and management of people with convictions for violent or sexual offences in the community. These arrangements are known as MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements). The Violent and Sexual Offenders Register (ViSOR) was developed to support it.

Aim of MAPPA

The aim of MAPPA is to identify relevant offenders, share information about them, assess the risks that they may pose and to manage those risks. MAPPA is intended to promote the sharing of information between all the agencies, resulting in more effective supervision and better public protection. For example, police may share information with probation officers that they have gathered about an offender’s behaviour from surveillance or intelligence gathering. Issues relating to the victims of crime and any possible contact which they might have with the former offender are also considered by MAPPA.

Categories and levels

The three formal MAPPA categories are:

  • Category One: All Registered Sexual Offenders
  • Category Two: Violent or other sex offenders not subject to notification requirements
  • Category Three: Other dangerous offenders

Whilst the majority of individuals under MAPPA do not, under its own risk assessment, present a risk of serious harm to the public, the arrangements are designed to enable the agencies involved to target resources and attention on those who present the highest risks. As a result, those under MAPPA are managed at one of three ‘risk levels’:

  1. Level One: Involves normal agency management (cases with a low-medium risk of serious harm to others). This will be either the probation service (for people on community orders or on licence following release from prison) or the police (for registered sex offenders).
  2. Level Two: Often called local inter-risk agency management (cases with a high or very high risk of harm to others). MAPPA meetings take place to develop a coordinated plan between the police, the probation service and other agencies.
  3. Level Three: Known as Multi-Agency Public Protection Panels (or MAPPPs, reserved for those deemed to pose the highest risk of causing serious harm or whose management is so problematic that multi-agency co-operation and oversight at a senior level is required with the authority to commit exceptional resources). Only a relatively small number (924 in the year from April 2008 to March 2009) are categorised at this level – normally because they are either considered particulary dangerous or their case has received a lot of media coverage.

How do I know if I’m subject to MAPPA?

If you are subject to MAPPA you should be notified.  For Categories 1 and 2, qualification for MAPPA is based solely on offence and disposal and for Category 3, on previous offending and current risk assessment. It is important to note that MAPPA does not give the supervising agencies any additional powers – it is merely a system for assessing and managing risk.

If you want information about discussions that have taken place about you at MAPPA meetings, you can request this formally from the local MAPPA Co-ordinator. The Co-ordinator will supply an executive summary of the minutes of the meeting. This is not a full version – some information relating to managing risk (such as the address of victims) will be removed.

If you feel you have been wrongly made subject to MAPPA, you (or your solicitor) should contact the Chair of the Strategic Management Board for MAPPA in your local area. You should be able to get details from your probation officer or from the head office of your local probation area. Contact details can be found here.

How will I be managed?

Approximately 95% of ‘registered sexual offenders’ in England and Wales are managed at level one of MAPPA and will usually be managed by either a single police or probation officer. The police are ultimately responsible for managing those under MAPPA. They often work in specially trained Public Protection Units (PPU’s) and are typically ‘plain-clothes’ officers.

As part of maintaining a risk management plan for each of the registered sexual offenders they manage, they will usually conduct home visits whilst an individual is subject to the Notification Requirements.  The frequency of these visits will be related to the MAPPA risk level. As a minimum requirement, MAPPA level one cases will be visited once every twelve months, level two cases every six months and level three cases at least every three months. Any information or incident that indicates that an individual under MAPPA has an increased risk may prompt more frequent visits.

Individuals can move between MAPPA levels if assessed to be more or less dangerous over time. Violent offenders are no longer subject to MAPPA proceedings once their period of supervision by the probation service has ended.

Can details of my MAPPA status be disclosed to my family?

Family members are not automatically informed of somebody’s MAPPA status. However, in some cases a MAPPA meeting may decide that it is in the family’s interest to know. When living with a family member, typically the family will be visited by the probation service or the police, who will ensure that they are aware of any risks. Often, family members may have to agree to certain conditions, such as, where a conviction relates to offences against children, no unsupervised access to children by the individual.

Can details of my MAPPA status be disclosed to a third party?

Police or probation officers will always consider whether it is necessary to disclose information about an individual to protect the public and safeguard children. This applies to all categories and levels of MAPPA. Examples could be:-

  • Where the public may be at risk through the offender’s employment, training or education.
  • Where others may be at risk, e.g. in supported accommodation. This may include other service users, but usually it will be staff and managers who are told.
  • Where there is a need to protect past or potential victims, in particular where an individual strikes up a new relationship with partners who have children or grandchildren. In some cases this may include friends or neighbours who have children.

Any disclosure must comply with the law, must be necessary for public protection, and must be proportionate.

Before a decision to disclose is made, consideration must be given to seeking representation from the individual concerned so that all the information necessary to make a properly informed decision is available. Seeking representation should be considered the norm.

If, having regard to individual circumstances, it is deemed necessary to disclose, it may be possible for an individual to make the disclosure to the third party himself/herself. This could either be in the presence of a police or probation officer or by allowing the police or probation officer to confirm and verify at a later date, the contents of the disclosure with the third party.

Other information

The latest MAPPA report for your area can be found here.

Official guidance on MAPPA is available here.



Probation records


Probation records (often referred to a “Probation Subject Access Request”)

Issued by

Local Probation Trust


To see what information the Probation Trust hold on their records about you

What it contains

Any information or records which the Probation hold on their system about you. This may relate to pre-sentence reports, OASys assessments, parole dossier information and hostel reports

How to apply

Local Probation Trust

Who can apply for it

Only the person whom the information is relevant to can apply

Contact details

You can find a list of all the Probation Trusts here



How long it takes

Can take up to 40 working days

Where it is sent

To you only

Link to anonymous example


How to correct inaccurate information

You would need to write directly to the local Probation Trust outlining the areas which you take issue with. They would then assess this inaccuracy against any information you have provided them with and return their findings to you via letter.


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