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This is the risk assessment bible used by the Prison Service and Probation Service.

The assessment of risk posed by an offender, and the identification of the factors which have contributed to the offending, are the starting points for all work with offenders, whether they maintain their innocence or not!!

The more intensive Sex Offender Programmes should be targeted at high and medium risk offenders. There is good evidence that indiscriminate allocation to any programmes is ineffective and may be counter-productive.

The belief is that that offenders will only benefit from interventions which are meaningful to them and are delivered in a way which is appropriate to the learning style of each offender.

The needs of particular groups (eg women, ethnic minorities, those with learning difficulties) must be taken into account. Interventions should be paced, and offenders should be given the opportunity to practise new skills / attitudes and behaviour.

Programmes need to address issues of motivation, of course, those maintaining innocence cannot be motivated to work with something that they continue to deny happened!

The OASYS is a risk/needs assessment and must perform many functions. “It must provide a broad classification of likelihood of reconviction within a given time frame. It must separately identify the serious risk of harm should further offences occur and to whom the risk of harm is posed and in what circumstances. It must provide an offending related needs profile, and direct steps to reduce these needs.”

It must identify the prisoner’s ability and motivation to change, and any other factors that could affect the individual’s response to a specific course.

OASys is a national system for assessing the risk and needs of an offender. The Prison and Probation Services have jointly designed the system.

OASys is designed to:

  • assess how likely an offender is to be reconvicted

  • identify and classify offending-related needs, including basic personality characteristics and cognitive behavioural problems

  • assess risk of serious harm, risks to the individual and other risks

  • assist with management of risk of harm

  • link the assessment to the supervision or sentence plan

  • indicate the need for further specialist assessments

  • measure change during the period of supervision/sentence.

It is important that the assessment system is constructed so that the items in it make sense to the assessor and the offender. It must be clear why each item is included. Only if the value of collecting information is readily recognised can we expect practitioners to conduct the assessments conscientiously and fairly and accurately !!!!

It is important that offenders can express their views. Many probation officers welcome the opportunity for offenders to complete a questionnaire about their problems. This is included in OASys as the ‘Self-assessment’.

Components of OASys:

  • There are five main parts to the Offender Assessment System:

  • risk of reconviction and offending related factors (OASys 1 and 2)

  • risk of serious harm, risks to individual and other risks

  • OASys summary sheet

  • supervision and sentence planning

  • self-assessment.

  • Please note …. There is also a ‘Confidential’ section for information that cannot be disclosed to the offender, and a form for requesting information from anyone contributing to an OASys assessment.

If anybody wants a copy of the OASYS manual that I have then please E mail me and I can send it electronically. In my opinion it is important that your loved one, in prison,knows how this system works!!

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