Crime co-operation boosts safety

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More than 100 dangerous criminals in Yorkshire were sent back to prison last year for breaking the conditions of their release while being watched by police and probation officers.

They included 27 perverts on the sex offenders register and 71 convicts who were being monitored because they had served prison sentences of at least 12 months for violent crimes.

In the region’s largest police force area, West Yorkshire, 51 residents were returned to prison between April 2010 and March 2011.

Also sent back to jail were 42 people in the Humberside Police area, 16 in South Yorkshire and five in North Yorkshire.

Details were published yesterday in reports which show the number of sex offenders living in the region rose by more than seven per cent last year to almost 4,000.

The reports give information about Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) – the schemes through which police, probation and prison services work together to monitor offenders.

Of more than 50,000 MAPPA-eligible offenders in England and Wales, 134 went on to be charged with a further serious offence.

Mark Siddall, who chairs West Yorkshire’s MAPPA strategic management board, said: “In every case we aim to put in place a rigorous plan to manage risk. The latest MAPPA statistics show a very low level of serious re-offending.

“In the last 12 months, from a probation caseload of over 3,000, only 0.47 per cent of offenders were charged with a further serious sexual or violent offence. “However, it is not possible to guarantee success in 100 per cent of the dangerous cases we manage.

“Every serious offence is a tragedy and we will continue to do our best to reduce that figure still further.”

The reports show that, on March 31 this year, there were 1,658 sex offenders in West Yorkshire, 961 in South Yorkshire, 456 living in North Yorkshire and 803 in the Humberside force area.

Although police and other crime prevention agencies are facing budget cuts, significant investment in MAPPA has continued as experts recognise the need to work together closely.

Detective Superintendent Adrian Teague, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “We take this responsibility extremely seriously and have invested in MAPPA to ensure that trained and skilled resources are devoted to this sensitive and complex area.”

North Yorkshire Police’s Temporary Deputy Chief Constable, Tim Madgwick, said the North Yorkshire MAPPA report showed the county remained “the safest place in the country to live, work and visit”.

He added: “The strong links which have developed between the various agencies since the introduction of MAPPA, and the use of the various tools available to us such as the child sex offenders disclosure scheme and sexual offences prevention orders, enhances public safety even further.

“While the reality is that the risks posed to the public by such individuals can never be completely eliminated, the report provides evidence that MAPPA successfully keeps them to a minimum.”

Prisons and Probation Minister Crispin Blunt said the figures showed MAPPA was “a very effective way of protecting communities from known sexual and violent offenders”.

The reports were published after the Government announced it would extend mandatory life sentences to crimes other than murder for the first time.

Anyone convicted of a second very serious sexual or violent crime in England and Wales would get an automatic life term under a new “two strikes” system.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said the Government would also for the first time extend mandatory jail terms for knife crimes to criminals aged 16 and 17.

The indeterminate sentence for public protection, which has seen about 6,000 offenders sent to jail without any fixed date for their release, is to be abolished.