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


David Harley

David joined Circles South West in August 2016 with over 20 years’ experience of working in the fields of criminal justice and social care, both in the voluntary and statutory sectors.

After completing a degree in psychology David spent 6 years working with children and adults with intellectual disabilities and/or autistic spectrum conditions.  The latter half of this time was in the role of assistant psychologist for the National Autistic Society in a secure forensic treatment unit where he assisted in developing risk assessments and tailoring therapeutic interventions for residents at the unit.

For the following 17 years David worked for the National Probation Service, specialising in the therapeutic intervention for people convicted of sexual offences and inter-partner violence. He undertook in-depth advanced level training in a number of areas, in particular the assessment and treatment of probation clients (young people and adults) with offending histories relating to sexual offending.  Also, due to his work experience prior to probation he often took on cases were interventions needed to be adapted for clients with intellectual disabilities who had sexually offended but were not able to access treatment from the Forensic Community Learning Disabilities Team.

For 10 years, David was also involved in training criminal justice staff and setting up new treatment services, promoting the professional development of others and assuring the quality of professional practice. He is a ‘national trainer’ and assessor of staff who themselves need to qualify as risk assessors for using risk assessment tools specific to sexual offending.

Outside of David’s probation work, for 7 years he was involved in voluntarily supervising and training volunteers who wish to become mentors for another local charity working with vulnerable adults. In this role he provided individual and group practice supervision for mentors as well as designing resources and training packages for them.  David has particular interests in working to protect vulnerable people and being part of the implementation of new projects which have real social value.  Having worked with people with sexual convictions who have intellectual disabilities and/or autistic spectrum conditions in both statutory and voluntary sectors, David was well placed to adapt the circles model to meet the needs of this client group for Circles South West.  Over the past 2 years David has developed the service for intellectual disability, designing a new training package for volunteers and successfully coordinating 9 circles for people with an intellectual disability.  Due to David’s past experience with other types of probation clients, he has also been involved in coordinating circles for young people and for those in prison.

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