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008/2012: Introduction of a computer triage system to monitor registered sex offenders – 28 November 2012

Approval to purchase a computer triage system to help monitor registered sex offenders

Executive Summary and recommendation:

The Police and Crime Commissioner is asked to support the initiative for the following reason. Since the Sexual Offences Act 2003 courts have granted prohibitions that allow police the opportunity to robustly manage these offenders in the community. However technology has and is advancing at a rate that makes it impossible to constantly train and refresh officers with the skills to carry out manual invasive computer checks. Triage is an electronic tool that will conduct searches of a computer above and beyond that of an IT specialist in under 30 minutes.

The Police and Crime Commissioner is requested to:

  • Support the proposal that NYP purchase the afore mentioned triage product including training and ongoing IT support.
  • Continue to support the internet management pilot Operation Box which dovetails into this process.

Police and Crime Commissioner decision

  1. Approved be given to purchase the equipment as detailed in the following report.
  2. That the internet management pilot Operation Box which dovetails into this process be supported.

To be determined 28 November 2012

jm-signature

Signature Date 28 November 2012

Title Police & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire

Unrestricted facts and advice to the PCC

Introduction and background

This paper is presented to the Police and Crime Commissioner with the intention of detailing the need to triage computers of Registered Sex Offenders (RSOs) who are subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO). These orders are granted at sentence and prohibit the RSO from conducting certain activities relevant to their offending.

  • The Police and Crime Commissioner is asked to support the initiative for the following reason. Since the Sexual Offences Act 2003 courts have granted prohibitions that allow police the opportunity to robustly manage these offenders in the community. However technology has and is advancing at a rate that makes it impossible to constantly train and refresh officers with the skills to carry out manual invasive computer checks. Triage is a electronic tool that will be updated and will conduct searches of a computer above and beyond that of an IT specialist in under 30 minutes.
  • If supported, the system will be brought into practise across the force by the eight Public Protection Officers (PPOs) who manage in excess of 500 RSO’s living in York and North Yorkshire.
  • All RSOs are visited according to their Risk, predominately those offenders who are subject to such orders are at the lower end of the scale, which means nationally they should be visited a minimum of once in 12 months. NYP double this standard and visit a minimum of twice a year. Even then this does not necessarily allow sufficient time to engage about their previous life style and offending pattern with a view to changing or managing it effectively.
  • It can be the case that such infrequent visits mean their continued offending is only recognised if they are caught in a police operation by which time they may have been offending for some time. This project will dovetail with our current Internet monitoring pilot (Operation Box). This project allows the police to monitor an RSO use of computers remotely and if they trigger a key word within the software, a screen shot will be sent to the RSO’s manager and the HQ supervisor.
  • A court order may provide the legal basis on which the police are able to use such software and where risk dictates provides an effective and resource efficient way to manage such offenders in the community, effectively monitoring their computer use 24hrs per day. Where the offender has shown a good attitude towards computer use the software is removed and deployed to another offender and replaced with unannounced visits using the plug in triage system.
  • If the triage search suggests their behaviour online is not as it should be, this will allow police to re-deploy the internet monitoring where the order allows, or arrest depending on severity. The police have the ability to apply for a SOPO variation to deploy such monitoring where other intelligence indicates any heightened risks.
  • The Police and Crime Commissioner is asked to consider authorising the funding of such resources as a cost effective means of managing the risks to the community associated with RSO management. The ratio of PPO to offender management increases given the lifelong expectation that RSO’s will remain on the register. As a minimum they will be retained on the register for 15 years. As their numbers grow the ability to manage and monitor computer use becomes more challenging without adequate software solutions.

Background

NYP currently have 535 RSO’s who are managed within the community, 243 are the subject of Sexual Offences Prevention Orders (SOPO) which restrict their movements, conditions of living within society and access to the internet. PPO make regular visits to such individuals as part of their proactive management to ensure amongst other things that they comply with their SOPO.

High Tech Crime Unit (HTCU) were tasked with examining different Triage solutions and determining which one best fits the requirements for on-site triage during PPO visits to Registered Sex Offenders (RSO). The criteria they worked to was:

  • The tool needs to be simple and intuitive to use.
  • The tool needs to be quick, in order to minimise time spent at scene.
  • The tool needs to give an immediate and clear indication of whether further investigation, and possibly seizure, is justified.

They concluded a multi-tool approach is advisable above an approach that places trust in a single tool. Situations can and do occur where one forensic software program simply will not function. For this reason, a backup tool is advisable.

The Triage tool would be used by the PPO during routine home visits to their offenders. At the commencement of the visit, the ‘triage’ would be uploaded to the offender’s computer and allowed to run in the background (approx 30 minutes), whilst the home visit takes place. Once the ‘triage’ has completed the search, an indication will be made as to whether the computer holds illegal data, or whether there has been suspected illegal use of that computer (such as searches to locate illegal data). Action will be taken by the PPO in response to the indication made.

Results can then be taken back to the office and archived to DVD for permanent storage as appropriate.

Matters for consideration

This tool is essential to enable NYP to monitor and manage RSOs. Technology has and is developing at pace and there is a need to firstly keep abreast of changes, and secondly to be in a position to monitor and manage the access to the internet by RSOs.

The effectiveness and robust management of RSOs is of the upmost importance to ensure that NYP is able to intervene, prevent and disrupt illegal use of the internet and to ensure we bring to justice those RSOs who use the internet to offend.

The implementation of the computer triage system will ensure that NYP have taken all possible steps to manage those who have committed sexual offences using the internet. Those subject to a SOPO have had their case considered by a Magistrates or Crown court to ensure the order requested is necessary, proportionate, justifiable and it is clear to the RSO what they can and cannot do.

The Police and Crime Commissioner is requested to:

  • Support the proposal that NYP purchase the afore mentioned triage product including training and ongoing IT support.
  • Continue to support the internet management pilot Operation Box which dovetails into this process.

Other options considered, if any

The only approach open to NYP if this system is not supported would be to significantly increase the number of officers and staff engaged in monitoring activity. This would also lead to a significant increase in requirement to undertake specialist computer and electronic device examinations.

Contribution to Police and Crime Plan outcomes

The Criminal Justice Act (2003) provides a statutory requirement for North Yorkshire & York Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) to manage relevant offenders who have been identified as posing a risk of serious harm to others. Their primary purpose is to share information which:-

  • Is pertinent to undertaking a multi-agency risk management assessment;
  • Identifies the likelihood of re-offending;
  • Identifies serious risk of harm and imminence;
  • Agrees aspects of behaviours and/ circumstances which are critical to delivering an effective MAPPA risk management plan

MAPPA and police public protection officers who will utilise this tool contribute significantly to the police plan of stronger partnerships. Woking within the MAPPA process managing sexual and violent offenders (MOSVO) that reside in our communities with partner agencies. Success has already been gained from working with Probation for example managing a domestic extremist using the technology of Operation Box. Partnership will strengthen as we manage these people that come into the MAPPA processes above and beyond RSO.

The robust management of these offenders who are residing within our communities is essential and will assist with confidence and safeguarding those vulnerable people who are potential targets of predatory RSO or other offenders who can have a great impact on society and the reputation of NYP to deal effectively with them.

Consultations carried out

This proposal has been consulted upon internally and with other police and partner organisation colleagues engaged in the management of RSOs

Financial Implications/Value for money

There are cost implications to NYP:

  • ADF Triage Examiner costs approximately £2000 per licence with 3 years worth of support, maintenance and updates.
  • 1 licence will be required per PVP area.
  • ADF Solutions currently offer a 2 day training package which costs £1500 for up to 10 members of staff. They will visit NYP.
  • USB flash drives and hard disc drives – approx £90 for all required.
  • Basic stand alone PC for each PVP to process the data retrieved during Triage process – £486 each.

Therefore total costs are £11,534 these are one off costs that would provide for three years worth of use including maintenance. Beyond three years a further assessment of continued use and technological advances would need to be considered. It is proposed these costs are available within and can be managed from existing crime directorate budget led by the Crime Director.

The funding for the ADF Triage Examiner costs will is proposed to be met from the Plant and Equipment rolling programme of investment.

Legal Implications

The RSOs that will be subject to computer triage will be on a court order (SOPO) that allows the police to manage the RSO in the community by checking their computer and ensuring that it is made available to be checked.

Equality Implications

There are no negative diversity or equality impacts as a result of this proposal.

RSOs are individuals who are required to be monitored in the community by police and this tool will allow the police to manage them correctly whilst subject to police management regardless of their background.

Tick to confirm statement (√)
Director/Chief OfficerACC Spittal has reviewed the request and is satisfied that it is correct and consistent with the NYPCC’s plans and priorities.
Legal AdviceLegal advice has been sought on this proposal and is considered not to expose the PCC to risk of legal challenge or such risk is outlined in Part 1 or Part 2 of this Notice.
Financial AdviceThe CC & CFO have been consulted on this proposal, for which budgetary provision already exists or is to be made in accordance with Part 1 or Part 2 of this Notice.
Equalities AdviceAn assessment has been made of the equality impact of this proposal. Either there is considered to be minimal impact or the impact is outlined in Part1 or Part2 of this Notice.
I confirm that all the above advice has been sought and received and I am satisfied that this is an appropriate request to be submitted for a decisionSignature Iain Spittal ACC Date 16 November 2012
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