Delivering circles of support and accountability to protect communities from sexual harm and sexual reoffending


Circles Coordinator featured on Chaos TV for High Sheriff Briefing

Circles South West were delighted to be recently invited to speak with Kate Holborrow, the High Sheriff of Cornwall, to talk about our work.

Jamie Stephenson, our Devon & Cornwall coordinator, sat down with Kate to discuss the projects taking place in Cornwall and how Circles South West came into being in the county.

In Cornwall over 2000 people in are on the sex offender register and it was in Devon & Cornwall that the first pilot project was formed after the success of the initial Thames Valley project 12 years ago.

Jamie spoke with Kate about the origins of Circles of Support & Accountability and the aims of the charity: to reduce the number of victims of sexual abuse across the south west of England. He discussed the equal aims of support and accountability for our core members, explaining that isolation and loneliness can increase the likelihood of sexual reoffending.

He also explained that most people who sexually abuse are known to the child or adult and that ‘stranger danger’ represents a very small proportion. The vast majority of perpetrators are males but there are female offenders which he describes as the ‘last taboo’. And that a significant proportion of sexual offences are committed children against children.

Kate was keen to know about our volunteers and Jamie spoke about the variety of our volunteers and how amazing they are. The said that they work to keep their communities safe; sexual abuse is a community problem which needs a community response. Our volunteers are ordinary people doing something extraordinary.

The increase in the use of online pornography was also discussed. Jamie pointed out that pornography use can lead to distorted attitudes around sex, which in turn can affect people’s real lives. The fact that children are accessing pornography at earlier ages was also mentioned as a worrying trend.

Finally Jamie talked about our latest project launched in Cornwall: Inform Plus, which works with small groups of men who have been convicted of online sexual offences involving indecent images of children. They are offered advice and support to self-monitor their behaviour and challenge their thinking. We also run a complementary support group for the partners/family network of the men involved.

You can watch the full interview here

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