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Monday 23 April 2018


The Legal Framework

Version: KR/TP/8/1.0

Author: Anne Robinson



In one sense the title of this Thought Piece is a misnomer:  there is no explicit statutory basis for Integrated Offender Management (IOM) or the multiplicity of schemes being developed under the IOM umbrella.  However, neither do they exist in a legal and policy vacuum.  Trends in criminal justice policy, as well as specific measures and initiatives introduced, have influenced IOM development to date and, as we shall see, it’s likely future directions.  This piece provides brief historical context and discusses the policy context that will continue to shape IOM.



So where does IOM come from?

The background to IOM broadly speaking arises from two separate but linked concerns as New Labour approached the Millennium.  First the preoccupation with harm/serious harm and public protection which had dominated the 1990s shifted to allow a parallel focus on persistence of offending.  This was first evident in relation to youth justice and the targets set to reduce time-scales for persistent young offenders (PYOs) being dealt with in court.  It was later expressed as a more generalised concern within the Home Office document, Criminal Justice: The Way Ahead, issued in 2001.  Second, the Home Office recognised the benefits of more consistent and coherent case management of offenders across agencies and adopted this vision as a central aim of criminal justice policy.

These concerns manifested themselves in concrete actions.  The Narrowing the Justice Gap initiative was launched in 2002 specifically to reduce attrition rates, that is, the discrepancy between offences committed and the much smaller number that result in the offender being convicted or cautioned.  One strand of this was reform of CJS processes, but the other was a focus on particular offender groups, including those involved with high volume acquisitive offending.  Drawing on previous examples of schemes for persistent offenders, the Prolific and other Priority Offender (PPO) programme was thus established in 2004.  The police and the probation service had already been brought together within the MAPPA framework, so the principle of joint working was not new, although certainly in the early days there was plenty of testing out what this meant in practice.  Responsibilities within local PPO schemes continue to be shared across different strands of the programme:


Catch and Convict  Lead agency: police 
Rehabilitate and Resettle  Lead agency: probation 
(Prevent and) Deter  Lead agency: youth offending team  

Further attention has been focused on high volume acquisitive offending within the Drug Intervention Programme, starting in selected areas during 2003 and then rolled out across the rest of England & Wales by 2005.  This targets Class A drug users not on statutory orders or in contact with treatment services, typically making contact in custody suites and whilst individuals are serving short prison sentences to offer a range of services and onward referral for treatment.  Although supportive, DIP is also backed by an assertive regime of drug-testing.   Again, it represents an example of the multi-agency working that was the hallmark of New Labour reforms, although this time involving health as a central partner and encompassing a range of commissioned services.

Fig 1: Influences on IOM


In relation to the case management of offenders, the key influence was a report by Patrick Carter in 2003, Managing Offenders, Reducing Crime.  Known as the ‘Carter Report’, this identified problems in the relationships and communications between the main criminal justice agencies.  His solution was to suggest a merger of the prison and probation services within one organisation – a National Offender Management Service – intending this to enable offenders to move more smoothly between custodial and community settings, and to improve continuity in the interventions and services they were receiving.  He used the phrase ‘end to end offender management’ to encapsulate his idea of what offenders should experience and this was later translated into operational form by Tony Grapes as the Offender Management Model (which is the subject of another Thought Piece in this series).   

How has IOM grown out of this?

PPO schemes and the DIP have been seen as successful, both in terms of reducing offending and building constructive relationships and working practices between not only police and probation as the main agencies, but also a variety of other partner organisations.  Partnership arrangements at a strategic level have also continued to develop, with direction and oversight from Crime & Reduction Partnerships strengthening as they became Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) and expanded their remit under S108 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009 to include reducing re-offending as well as prevention of crime.  At the same time, providers of probation services were made ‘responsible authorities’ within CSPs, so tying them more firmly into multi-agency structures for intervening with offenders not subject to statutory orders.  Paradoxically – but perhaps also helpfully – this is taking place just as the police service are becoming more involved with aspects of statutory supervision and building more helping relationships with the non-statutory cases they are involved with through PPO schemes and IOM.

It is not surprising that the government looked to develop IOM and the practice of ‘end to end offender management’ using the existing PPO and DIP arrangements – strategic and operational – as a platform to build upon.  However IOM schemes are more than just an amalgam of PPO and DIP: The Integrated Offender Management Government Policy Statement (Home Office, 2009: 14) states that “IOM asks local partnerships to look at all existing offender-focused programmes and processes and how to simplify, join up and streamline them”   The majority of resources will come from reconfiguring existing services and expenditure: “IOM is principally about doing core business differently to achieve enhanced outcomes” (2009: 14).  

Key issues in implementing IOM

Building on existing arrangements, local areas have been given considerable freedom to develop IOM in ways that suit local requirements and capacities, including specifying geographical areas or service boundaries (for instance, a particular community or perhaps a local authority or BCU area).  Although the scope of the schemes will embrace PPOs and DIP clients, other priorities may be identified locally such as: adult offenders released from custodial sentences of less than 12 months; alcohol-misusing offenders; women offenders; or young offenders under18 years.  In some instances, IOM may also be seen as a tool to re-engage offenders at risk of non-compliance with court orders.

The priorities determined locally may well affect the balance of statutory and non-statutory offenders involved in IOM, The benefits in terms of non-statutory cases are clearly that:


  • IOM can offer services and supportive relationships to offenders who are not otherwise the responsibility of any one agency
  • IOM can ensure that offenders’ movements and activities are monitored
  • IOM can provide structure and encourage offenders to become involved in constructive pursuits


However, IOM should operate with a degree of caution and a proper sense of proportionality.  In particular, schemes should have regard for offenders’ rights bearing in mind that:


  • unlike the majority of sentences passed in the court, IOM interventions do not have a fixed end date
  • there are no set perimeters determining the intensity of intervention (which is based on assessment of future risk and therefore inherently full of uncertainty)
  • IOM can involve a number of elements involving control and disruption as well as positive intervention.


It is important to be clear in each individual case what the purpose of IOM might be and what is needed to achieve that purpose.  It is not intended to be in itself punitive, although it places obligations on the offender.  Neither should it restrict the offender beyond what is felt to be necessary to help contain his or her offending.  Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights is highly relevant and is worth reflecting upon:


  1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
  2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.  

There are complex judgements about what degrees of intrusion or what restrictions might be ‘necessary’ in individual cases.  Professionals undoubtedly vary in terms of where they are in the continuum between the extremes of Crime Control and Due Process.


Crime Control  Due Process 
Actions to reduce crime are so important they should override individual rights  Actions to reduce crime, even if they achieve their end, should be curtailed if they impinge upon key rights of individuals 

Others argue that it is not as simple as that polarised model suggests, and that proper attention to rights means considering and finding an appropriate balance between the rights of all parties – the offender, the victim(s) and the community.

Looking critically at compliance

IOM is interesting specifically because it is not necessarily backed by the powers of the court and the threat of enforcement that goes along with court orders.  Although in individual cases, post-custody licence conditions, restrictions on bail or other controls such as ASBOs, may be in place these are not uniform across the population subject to IOM.  The implications are three fold:

  • schemes have to engage non-statutory offenders and to make their engagement worthwhile
  • speedy access to services or to treatment can be significant in engaging and in retaining individuals in IOM
  • relationships characterised by openness and demonstrably fair use of authority contribute significantly to the success of IOM (a Thought Piece elsewhere in this series discusses pro-social modelling as a helpful approach)


In the first instance IOM schemes are aiming to enable individuals to comply with the contact and other requirements of the scheme and to break their patterns of offending.  This can be termed formal compliance, and goes as far as following the rules and meeting the requirements set.  Over and above that, substantive compliance involves a more fundamental acceptance of pro-social norms and values, and is more indicative of change that is long-term and embedded.

In looking at the psychology of compliance, Anthony Bottoms (2001) has proposed a useful model illustrated in the diagram below.  He suggests there are four basic reasons for complying, which may all be evident within IOM.

Fig 2: Types of compliance


Types of compliance


First, constraints may compel compliance by limiting movements or contact with specific individuals, so the opportunities to offend or to relapse and then fall out of contact are reduced.   These may include physical measures such as electronic monitoring of curfews or simply prohibiting certain behaviours, such as drinking in public houses.


Second, offenders may choose to comply for entirely self-interested reasons or because they have weighed up the costs and benefits and do not wish to incur sanctions.  This behaviour is thus outwardly compliant but instrumental rather than based on an acceptance of the legitimacy of what IOM is asking of the individual.


Third, compliance may be based on habit or routine.  A clear aim of IOM schemes is for offenders to establish structure in their daily lives to replace older and more dysfunctional routines.  However, ultimately this must be self-sustaining for the individual otherwise the risk is that the new routines will fall apart on leaving IOM.


The fourth type of compliance that Bottoms discusses is normative and this involves adopting and internalising norms and values that are more in line with those of wider society.  Relationships are critical in promoting normative compliance, as it is through attachment to individuals who espouse clear values and model pro-social behaviours that the process of accepting their worth and legitimacy takes place.  Thinking about this type of compliance, the lead professional role within IOM assumes particular importance, as this is the pivotal practitioner-offender relationship and sets the tone for the individual’s experience within IOM.


At different times, practitioners in IOM will work with all four of these types of compliance and will use tools – ranging from physical restraints to interpersonal skills – related to each.  Ultimately, the desired change is represented below (adapted from Robinson and McNeill, 2008):


Fig 3: Promoting compliance

Promoting compliance


And the future of IOM?

The starting point for this Thought Piece was to outline the policy background for IOM.  But what of its future?  What is likely to shape how it develops over the next few years?  It is difficult to predict accurately but some key influences can be identified, including the Coalition government’s localism agenda and the promotion of Payment by Results both of which may encourage innovation.  Some of the main drivers are set out in the diagram overleaf:

Fig 4: Future influences on IOM



The system of targets within Local Area Agreements and National Indicators has been abandoned by the current administration in favour of a broader indicator of re-offending.  While this is likely to offer more flexibility at a local level, evaluation and measurement of impact will still be needed for individual IOM schemes to ensure that they are targeting appropriately and are using their resources to best effect. 

IOM has started out positively, building on firm foundations established by PPO schemes and the DIP.   There is now opportunity to build a solid body of knowledge about what is effective and what engages offenders, particularly those with no statutory obligation to attend,.  But this will be dependent on an open and learning culture amongst teams of practitioners working in local areas, able to reflect on their practice and the dilemmas in relation to rights, freedom and social inclusion thrown up by IOM.


This Thought Piece has raised critical concerns about IOM, which may benefit individuals on the one hand, but could entail unwarranted increases in levels of control and surveillance on the other.  Local areas have considerable freedom to develop IOM arrangements to suit their needs, circumstances and local offender populations.   Local autonomy was a hallmark of IOM under New Labour but the principles of integrated working and of local flexibility also chime with the approach of the present administration.  It remains to be seen how local areas will seek to establish schemes that achieve an appropriate balance of rehabilitation and support alongside proportionate use of the elements of control, monitoring, coercion and enforcement available to them.

Questions to consider

  1. To what extent do your local IOM arrangements reflect local needs and circumstances?
  2. In your view, what is the potential for IOM to compound the isolation and exclusion that individuals experience?  How could you guard against this?
  3. How could you ensure that IOM contains an appropriate balance of controls and positive elements?  What role could offenders take in achieving this balance?
  4. Can you identify positive ways that IOM might promote offenders’ rights and participation in society?
  5. To what extent do you recognise the four types of compliance behaviours that Anthony Bottoms proposes?  Are the issues about compliance and engagement different or similar for statutory and non-statutory cases?
  6. What do you feel will be the most significant influences on IOM development?  And why?



Bottoms, A.(2001)  ‘Compliance and Community Penalties’ in Community Penalties: Changes and Challenges    Eds. Bottoms, A., Gelsthorpe, L. and Rex, S.   Cullompton: Willan

Carter, P.  (2003)  Managing Offenders – Reducing Crime     London: Home Office

Home Office (2001)   The Way Ahead     London: Home Office

Robinson, G. and McNeill, F.  (2008)  ‘Exploring the Dynamics of Compliance with Community Penalties’ in Theoretical Criminology  Vol 12: 431-449