In the Media

Mubarek report to lift the lid on 'chaotic' IT

PUBLISHED July 1, 2006

A report into the killing of Zahid Mubarek will this week highlight the chaotic state of the criminal justice system (CJS) and the desperate need for joined-up systems to protect and process offenders, according to one of the inquiry?s delegates.

However, the Gazette has learned that the IT systems being forged to do this still do not represent an integrated approach.

Mike Manisty, director of the National Offender Management Service?s information services section, spoke out at a London conference this month about how Mr Mubarek, killed in his Feltham prison cell while on remand by a convicted criminal, was let down partly through the inability of the system to effectively manage risk to offenders.

But one of the key systems developed to address the chaos, the National Offender Management information system (C-NOMIS), scheduled to launch in weeks and headed by Mr Manisty, uses a different risk assessment tool to both the police and youth offending services.

C-NOMIS, due to trial at HMP Albany on the Isle of Wight from July, uses the eOASys offender risk assessment system, while police services in the UK use another system, RM2000, as well as the violent and sex offender register (Visor). Visor and eOASys do not currently ?talk? to each other. Youth offending services use yet another system, Asset, which is also understood not to link into eOASys.

At the Modernising Justice Through IT conference earlier this month, Mr Manisty, a delegate to the Mubarek Inquiry, outlined the importance of correctly identifying and assessing for risk those in custody, something that is still not happening.

Mr Manisty said the report would contain ?disturbing reading?, adding: ?What it illustrates is that... we have a chaotic system that we?ve introduced in the criminal justice system. You will see illustrated graphically... that the data was wrong, nobody understood, [and the staff mainly] were doing a good job... and at the end of it was the death at Feltham of a young Asian person. It could have been prevented; it wasn?t.?

Mr Manisty said the National Offender Management Service had been created ?to try and address this chaotic system?. ?The fact is... we still don?t know, when a prisoner arrives in prison, where they?ve been before, whether they?ve been on probation ? we might know if they?ve been to prison before, we might not.?

A key problem is assigning one unique identity to anyone who enters the CJS. But John Hague, assistive technology officer for London Probation Service, has seen the systems and told the Gazette that, though he welcomed C-NOMIS, the potential for this kind of identity error is still very much present ?while we?ve got all these different risk measures?.

A Home Office statement said the ?eventual intention? is to link Visor and C-NOMIS. This depends on the successful ?implementation? of C-NOMIS in joining up the Prison Service and 42 probation areas.