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Keywords:

  • MAPPA;
  • Sex offender;
  • Public protection;
  • Risk regulation;
  • The ‘Other’;
  • Taboo risk

Abstract

Growing media, political and public concern with high-risk offenders in the community has focused policy attention on the concept of ‘public protection’. A notion that the public has the right to be protected, particularly from ‘monstrous’ offenders such as predatory paedophiles, has infiltrated much recent legislation and penal policy. This article will explore the critical factors in the ‘public protection’ trend and the framing of risk and risky offenders that has ensued. In particular, attention will be given to the new surveillance and intervention mechanisms under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) and whether these arrangements manage risk or displace it. To what extent are they driven by the ‘precautionary principle’ and defensive responses to risks that are over-inflated? To what extent does this result in ‘perverse incentives’ to over-manage certain risks and to over-concentrate on restrictive risk management techniques such as electronic tagging, satellite surveillance and curfews rather than treatment? Does the system represent effective risk management or a system for dealing with risk anxiety – both of the public(s) and of politicians?