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Concern sex offender “manipulated” risk assessment

Concern sex offender “manipulated” risk assessment

Wednesday 28 September 2022

Concern sex offender “manipulated” risk assessment

Wednesday 28 September 2022

A man convicted of making and distributing indecent photos of children has been removed from the Sex Offender’s Register despite concerns he may have “manipulated the team” involved in assessing his risk of reoffending.

The Royal Court made the decision that continuing to impose notification requirements on the man was “no longer justified” following an application made on 14 September.

The individual – whose identity has been kept anonymous in the court's written judgment – was placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for a minimum of 10 years after pleading guilty to five counts of making an indecent image of a child, six counts of inciting the making of an indecent photograph and two of distributing indecent images of children.

He also had a previous conviction in 2004 for one count of possession of indecent photographs, one count of distribution and one of possession with intent to share them further.

Under the Sex Offenders' Law, anyone who has reached the minimum term set by the courts, may make an application for removal from notification requirements.

Agencies, including the Probation Service, are then required to provide an updated court report or risk assessment for the court to decide whether the individual is eligible for removal.

In considering the application for removal, the Royal Court heard that the man had been assessed using three different tools: RM2000, the Child Pornography Offender Risk Tool (CPORT) and the SAO7 Stable and Acute Tool.

When assessed in 2011 using a specialist tool for gauging the level of risk a sex offender poses, the applicant was assessed as being "at the high end of medium risk of combined sexual and violence offending" – as this is what the court described as an "objective, actuarial tool", the result did not change.

The CPORT assessment suggested the man was at "relatively high" risk of reoffending, though the Police pointed out that this tool remained under development and as such should be "used with caution".

Meanwhile, the SA07 test, which the man was reported to have undergone nine times since 2017, was said to take into account changing factors in an individual's life.

With this test, a result of 0-3 categorised an individual as being at "low" risk of reconviction.

The most recent test, in August, graded the man as '3', following assessments branding him as being at "moderate" risk in 2017 and 2021.

As well as considering the assessments, the Royal Court also sought the views of the Police's Offender Management Unit and the Probation Service.

While the Unit said there is "no evidence" that the individual "harbours any desire to re-offend" and noted that he "appears to be concentrating his efforts on creating a meaningful and purposeful life for himself", the Probation Service raised concerns about the change in the applicant's risk of sexual reconviction.

In a report, the Probation Service highlighted that, "given the significant decrease in risk there is the concern that the Applicant may have manipulated the team or there may be 'disguised compliance'."

However, it went on to note that "that there is no current evidence or police intelligence to raise the risk assessment and there has been a gradual decline in the Applicant's risk assessment over the course of the past 11 years."

Explaining the decision of the Court, Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith, who had been sitting with Jurats David Hughes and Karen Le Cornu, said: "...The test for removal of the notification requirements is that the Court must be satisfied (on the balance of probabilities) that the risk of sexual harm to the public (or to any particular person or persons) posed by the risk of reoffending does not justify him remaining subject to [requirements].

"The respondent submits and the Court agrees that in light of the low risk assessments the imposition of the notification requirements is no longer justified.

"In considering the application, the Court notes that the Applicant has engaged with OMU officers whilst he has been subject to the Notification requirements. Further, there have been no known breaches of the notification requirements or restraining orders.

"The application is granted."

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