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As with any specialist field, there is an outrageous number of acronyms associated with criminal justice that can be both bewildering and frustrating when trying to get to grips with the field.

Below are a few explained...


AIDS  -  Acquired Immune Defficiency Syndrome

ASBO - Anti-Social Behaviour Order - a civil order banning the subject from entering certain areas, associating with certain people, or doing certain things and it will last for at least two years.


BBR  -  Building Better Relationships - a group-work programme for men convicted of domestic abuse offences against women

BCS - British Crime Survey - the annual government survey of people's experience of crime and feelings about it covering England and Wales.  It is conducted by an independent research organization on behalf of the Home Office and the Office for National Statistics and has been carried out since 2001

BSC - British Society of Criminology - The British Society of Criminology aims to further the interests and knowledge of both academic and professional people who are engaged in any aspect of work or teaching, research or public education about crime, criminal behaviour and the criminal justice systems in the United Kingdom.  The Society has been in existence for 50 years and has a wide-ranging membership based here and overseas.


CBO - Criminal Behaviour Order.  An order issued by the criminal court against a person who has been convicted of an offence to tackle the most persistent anti-social individuals

CBT - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy- an approach to treatment that involves working with people to help them change their emotions, thoughts and behaviours. 

CCC - Criminal Courts Charge - introduced in April 2015 this is a charge that is imposed for any conviction for an offence that was committed after 13 April 2015, regardless of the persons ability to pay. 

CCJT - Centre for Crime & Justice Studies

CO  -  Community Order 

CPS - Crown Prosecution Service

CUK  -  Circles UK - Circles of Support and Accountability are an innovative and successful community contribution to reducing sex offending, working in close partnership with criminal justice agencies. 


DIP  -  Drink Impaired Drivers Programme - an accredited programme for work with offenders

DPA  - Data Protection Act

DTTO - Drug Treatment and Testing Orders are imposed by courts where someone's offending is clearly linked to problem drug misuse

DVPO - Domestic Violence Protection Order. DVPOs came into effect from March 2014 and are aimed at protecting women from violence.  They are applied for by the police and made by the Magistrates' Court.


ECHR  -  European Convention of Human Rights


FOIA  -  Freedom of Information Act 2000


GSI  -  Government Secure Intranet


HDC -  Home Detention Curfew - The Home Detention Curfew (HDC) scheme applies to prisoners who are serving sentences of between three months and under four years. It allows prisoners to live outside of prison providing they do not breach the rules of their curfew and is designed to help prisoners prepare for life after their release.

HMIP - Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation or Prison (the same acronym stands for both inspectorates)


IMB -   Independent Monitoring Board a board of lay people attached to each prison that independently monitors the prison premises, its administration and treatment of prisoners



KPI  -   Key Performance Indicator


LASPO ACT 2012 -  The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012


MAPPA  -  Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement - the arrangement under which those relevant authorities who are responsible for the management of convicted sex offenders, work together

MHTR - Mental Health Treatment Requirement - this is for sentencing of offenders convicted of an offence that falls below custody but who have a mental health problem which does not require secure in-patient treatment.  It can be a requirement of a Community Order

MSAC -  Men's Senior Attendance Centre - an alternative to custody for men that balances punishment and rehabilitation - used for minor or first time offences


NACRO -  The National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders

NOMS -  National Offender Management Service - this is an executive arm of the Ministry of Justice and is responsible for correctional services in England and Wales only

NMHDU - The National Mental Health Development Unit - it replaced the National Institute for Mental Health England in 2009 and was itself disbanded in 2011


OASys - the assessment tool used by the Prison and Probation Services in England and Wales to measure risk and needs of criminal offenders under their supervision

ORA 2014 - Offender Rehabilitation Act, 2014.  Main elements to the Act are the expansion of licences to offenders who receive short sentences; the creation of new post-sentence supervision periods and a number of changes to the Community Order and the Suspended Sentence Order requirements


PACT - Prison Advice and Care Trust - an independent, national charity working with prisoners and with prisoners' families

PCT  -  Primary Care Trust - NHS Primary Care Trusts are statutory bodies responsbile for delivering better heath care to their local area

PHE -  Public Health England - it is an executive agency of the Departnent of Health and aims to protect and improve the nation's health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities

PPO - Prisons and Probation Ombudsman - The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman carries out independent investigations into deaths and complaints in custody

PRT - Prison Reform Trust - see under Useful Links

PSI - Prison Service Instruction - the rules, regulations and guidelines by which prisons are run

PSR - A Presentence Report.  A report ordered by the court to look into the background of the person before the court in advance of sentencing

PSS - Post Sentence Supervison (part of the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2015), where offenders serve a sentence of more then 1 day and less than two years, they are subject to a minimum of 12 months supervision in the community.  The 12 months is a combination of the licence and post sentence supervision




RAR  -  Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.  These activities which can be ordered by the court and the activities must promote the offenders rehabilitation.

RJ  -  Restorative Justice - the term given to approaches where the aim is to repair the harm done through offenders taking responsibility for their actions and are given help to avoid future offending and where there is a focus on the victims of crime who can be actively engaged in the reparation process

RJC  -  Restorative Justice Council. The RJC promotes quality restorative practice for everyone.


SC  -  Sentencing Council - The Council produces guidelines on sentencing for the judiciary and criminal justice professionals and aims to increase public understanding of sentencing

SSO  -  Suspended Sentence Order


TSP -   Thinking Skills Programme - a group-work programme for men and women to tackle general offending patterns




VISOR   -  The Violent and Sex Offender Register -  is a database of records of those required to register with the Police under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (the 2003 Act), those jailed for more than 12 months for violent offences, and those thought to be at risk of offending


WSAC - Women's Senior Attendence Centre - an alternative to custody for women that balances punishment and rehabilitation that's appropriate for minor offences and first time offences




YJB  -  Youth Justice Board - oversees the youth justice system in England and Wales

YRO  -  Youth Rehabilitation Order

YOI  -  Young Offenders Institution

YOT  -  Youth Offending Team - YOTs work with young people that get into trouble with the law