Decision Reference Number: WPC3-0086
Lead Officer: Det. Insp Tim Sharp
Chief Officer approval: DCC Alex Franklin Smith
To sign up to eSafe, using the ATOM2 grant for this purpose, to enable effective management of Sex Offenders.
I confirm that my register of interests declaration is up to date and that none of my interests preclude me from making this decision.
Signature: Philip Seccombe
1. Background information
The Regional Sex Offender Management Unit is responsible for the effective and efficient management of registered sex offenders and the risk that they pose to our communities.
Recent HMICFRS inspection identified need to build on effective monitoring through use of available technology.
eSafe is a monitoring software placed on electronic devices. Keywords / search terms (relevant to the index offence of the individual) are pre entered into the monitoring profile to provide alerts as to searched subject matter or images containing exposed skin. Alerts are then automatically brought to the attention of eSafe employees who, in turn, alert the Sex Offender Manager for the individual.
All electronic observations can be downloaded and prepared in an evidential format ready for submission to CPS and Court
ATOM2 is a funding stream provided by the Home Office which supports implementation of technology to advance the effective management of sex offenders.
Funding is for the first year only and, thereafter, costs will have to be met by Warwickshire Police.
ATOM2 funding (£9,600.00) has been agreed and will be provided to Warwickshire Police in the form of a grant. The PCC will be requested to sign a grant agreement.
Warwickshire Police are required to purchase eSafe (50 x licences) and provide initial training by the end of March 2023. ATOM2 will make payment of funds to Warwickshire Police after purchase on the condition that Warwickshire Police undertake to fund the project through following years.
2. List of additional information attached as appendices
3. Expected benefits
Sex Offences are increasingly being committed utilising electronic devices. This can range from possession/creation/distribution of indecent images, links to the Cloud (for such images) through to engagement with vulnerable victims through social platforms.
Policing is an everchanging landscape and the nature of offending, relating to sex offenders, has changed over time and with advancement in technology. If Warwickshire Police is to be great at protecting the most vulnerable we have to invest in new technology supporting the effective monitoring of people who pose the highest level of risk. HMICFRS feedback requires Warwickshire Police to improve n this area of offender management.
Warwickshire Police currently utilises OS Triage as a tool to interrogate computers held by offender under management. This tool cannot be used on mobile phones or tablets. Use of OS Triage requires a physical visit to the offender’s address which can be frustrated if the offender is not home (visits are unannounced for obvious reasons). RSOMU managers have to physically inspect offender’s mobile phones and tablets which take a great deal of time.
eSafe is a remote monitoring tool that scans the use of an offender’s devices for globally used keywords and keystrokes, relating to sex and pornography, whilst also supporting the setting of bespoke keywords which are highly relevant to the offender’s index offence. The system automatically creates alerts which are monitored by eSafe staff and then forwarded to the Sex Offender Manager for further investigation and action.
eSafe also monitors images, on a device, and will create system alerts if an image is detected with a high level of exposed skin.
When required, evidential documents are couriered to the Sex Offender Manager to support early progression, effective safeguarding and the bringing of offenders to justice as soon as is possible.
These automated process provides for a higher level of monitoring which is more effective and efficient than current methods.
Use of eSafe would move Warwickshire Police forward in respect of it’s use of technology to effectively manage high risk offenders.
Additionally, the implementation and use of eSafe supports work currently being undertaken in respect of Bluestone Soteria and VAIWG.
4. Impact of not approving the application
Purchase and use of eSafe provides opportunity for intrusive, effective and efficient management of registered sex offenders. If Warwickshire Police do not invest in this new system we will not be managing offenders to the best of our ability through support and use of latest technology. This may cause a reduction in confidence, by our communities, if an offender commits a further sexual offence which could have be prevented through use of this equipment.
5. Costs (including any identified savings)
ATOM2 funding (£9,600.00) has been agreed and will be provided to Warwickshire Police in the form of a grant. The PCC will be requested to sign a grant agreement. (OPCC is fully briefed).
Year 2 – £200 per licence
Year 3 – £220 per licence
The above is based on 50 licences. The number of licences being used is likely to increase and, as such, so will the cost.
6. Equality considerations
eSafe works on identification of possible offences through use of global and bespoke (to the original index offence) keywords and keystrokes. The setting of these factors are made in line with identified risk and not an individual’s gender, race or sexual orientation.
7. Legal comments
The force has considered the legal implications of using such technology, deeming it to be low risk and providing an overview to Katharine Grasby, without full review.
8. Social or Environmental considerations
The use of eSafe provides benefit to Warwickshire Police, it’s employees, the communities served and also the individual subject to use of this tactic.
Warwickshire Police will benefit from the knowledge that it is using a technology most suited to the effective management of sex offenders presenting the highest risk of harm to our communities. Use of eSafe also provides identifiable benefits to work being progressed under Bluestone Soteria and VAIWG.
Warwickshire Police staff (RSOMU and wider) will recognise that the Organisation greatly values the work that they undertake and the continued investment in technology supporting the efficient management of sex offenders.
Our communities may not, initially, be aware that eSafe is being used as a method of sex offender risk management, however, should a sex offender commit a Serious Further Offence, Warwickshire Police will be subject to a serious case review. As part of this process the public may become aware as to the use of this tactic which may serve to provide reassurance and confidence regarding the investment and effort, by Warwickshire Police, to keep our communities safe.
Registered Sex Offenders, subject to eSafe, may also benefit as it provides great incentive to not reoffend: the subject is fully aware that their devices are monitored.
Information in this form is subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act) and other legislation. Unless the information provided is covered by an exemption and stated to be either confidential or partly confidential, the information contained in the form will be published on the OPCC website.
Comments from the Treasurer
The costs are outlined within this decision notice and should be met fully by grant funding in year 1. Future year costs will need to be budgeted for as part of the annual budget setting process. This investment should ensure the continued enhanced activities of RSOMU and enable the force to conduct investigations to a high standard.
Comments from the Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer
This is a technological solution to support activities of the RSOMU and should enable enhanced monitoring of Sex Offenders who are a risk to the community.