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


It’s official! Her Majesty’s Inspector of Probation endorses the effectiveness of Circles of Support & Accountability

Our Operations Manager, Pauline Rousseau, talks about the exciting news that HMI Probation has endorsed Circles of Support & Accountability as an intervention that reduces sexual re-offending and increases compliance.

I am hoping that it will not have escaped your notice that Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) has been highlighted in the latest report from Her Majesty’s Inspector of Probation (HMIP) on sexual offending, as an intervention that reduces re-offending and increases compliance.

I am also hoping that our supporters will be saying to themselves “we know that!”. However, it is absolutely amazing that HMIP has not only recognised this but has listed it as one of their four KEY findings.

I would also argue that CoSA can be linked to another key finding – that partnership working and inter-agency collaboration is important for both risk management and community integration. Whilst this finding focuses on the importance of the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements and statutory agencies working closely, what better model for community integration than CoSA? We use community volunteers, we meet in community venues, we encourage our Core Members to look at participating safely and appropriately in their local communities. In fact, we work with a restorative justice approach, allowing the community to hold to account those who have offended against their community.

The HMIP report states that:

Sexual offending can have lifelong and devastating consequences for victims and public concern is understandably high. As at 31 March 2019, there were approximately 60,000 registered sex offenders (RSOs) in England and Wales. This number has doubled over the last decade due to sentencing trends, the identification of historic sexual offenders, and the long periods of registration required. Timely and comprehensive information sharing between statutory and non-statutory agencies, via Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) or other partnerships, is crucial to public safety.

Further, Circles of Support and Accountability have been found to reduce risk and increase compliance with registration requirements.

Trained volunteers, supported and supervised by professional coordinators, meet with our Core Members initially on a weekly basis for a minimum of 12 months. Core Members are held to account for their behaviours, their thoughts and their attitudes but they are also given the opportunity to work through any that are problematic and risky and look at ways to desist from offending and change their lives so that they no longer pose a risk of creating more victims. ‘No more victims’ is our overarching aim and the work of our charity is predicated on this. The relationship that develops between the Core Member and the volunteers often enables them to disclose information that helps the statutory agencies make more accurate, ongoing risk assessments and risk management plans. The Core Member signs up to this exchange of information because they want help in managing their risk, most of them don’t want to create more victims.

We work very closely with the statutory agencies and are thrilled that this work has been recognised by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Probation in their report dated 22 October 2021.

You can read the full report here

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