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


Circles ReBoot – A different Type of Circle?

Circles South West was one of two Providers that delivered on the National Circles Reboot pilot scheme; we coordinated 6 Circles Reboot in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Bristol and Bournemouth.


Circles ReBoot is a Circle of Support and Accountability devised by the Circles UK Team in 2021 specifically for Individuals who access Child Sexual Exploitation Material (CSEM).

We all recognise that Child Sexual Exploitation Material (CSEM) (indecent images of children on the internet) and the exponential increase in its use is currently creating a significant challenge for all Criminal Justice agencies. Research indicates that a different approach is required for individuals who look at CSEM rather than for those who commit contact sexual offences; perpetrators who access CSEM demonstrate fewer anti-social traits and their attendance at a traditional intensive sex offender treatment programme can be counterproductive.

So what is Circles ReBoot?

The programme is very much part of the Circles brand and is delivered by volunteers following the underlying principles of Circles. Its main differences to a standard Circle is that it consists of only 12 sessions, run over a 6-month period and is more structured than a traditional Circle. The target audience – core members – are those assessed as presenting a medium or low risk of harm and with no previous convictions for contact offences.

ReBoot focuses on encouraging the core member to recognise their strengths, whilst identifying and working towards goals for a positive and law-abiding life. They learn new skills which assist them in developing self-awareness, self-efficacy and ways of coping with the challenges of daily life. Throughout the Circle, the core member will define, work towards and review their personal goals. They will also be introduced to a number of exercises – the Keys for Change – where they are introduced to simple tools to help increase their self-awareness and assist in overcoming obstacles to their goals. The intention is to look to the future with hope, but without ignoring the past.

So what are the principles underpinning ReBoot?

Well, first and foremost is The Circles Approach. The Circles delivery model is at the heart of Reboot as evidence has shown that interventions are most effective where practitioners care about the individual, are invested in assisting their journey, and where they demonstrate accurate empathy, respect and therapeutic genuineness. The commitment of unpaid volunteers giving up their personal time to work alongside core members clearly gives a powerful message of their investment. The training volunteers have received, alongside the structure and safe environment a Circle provides has most definitely optimised the delivery of Circles ReBoot.

Having successfully completed two ReBoot Circles in Bournemouth this year it was felt by all involved that once we had got used to the differences in the structure of the Circle, the core members had significantly benefitted from the process and their risk of re-offending had been significantly reduced.

The Circles ReBoot pilot evaluation is being conducted in partnership with Lincoln University, RHUL and ONLINEprotect with publication expected soon. We hope that Circles ReBoot will become an intrinsic part of our business and we here at Circles South West look forward to being a part of the process moving forward.

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