The main sex offender treatment programme for England and Wales has been scrapped after a report found it led to more reoffending. Researchers found prisoners completing the programme were slightly more likely to offend than a control group.
I’ve been thinking about blogging for a while…….I’ve been told it’s a great way to raise the profile of re:shape. This is my ultimate aim, because I truly believe, more awareness will ultimately help us continue working towards our mission of no more victims! However, I couldn’t quite decide when or how to start blogging, what should I write about? Who’d be interested?
Then today, a sleepy Sunday, I knew I needed to write something….. You see, I’ve just read the BBC story about Sex Offender Treatment Programmes not working, whilst reading it my heart sank. Here is the article on the BBC Website - Sex offender treatment in prison led to more offending
Not because I agree or disagree – I can’t, I don’t have all the facts, I didn’t do the research, I’m not one of the people who have been on the programme.
However, I still have the sinking feeling! And that's because for many people reading the headline will reinforce their current beliefs, which are that people convicted of sexual offences are the scum of the earth, can't be helped, should be hunted down, etc.
My opinion for what it is worth is that everyone who wants help can be helped. That’s the biggest thing for me, motivation to change.
I actually delivered SOTP, many years ago now. When it was quite new, and I was very new to psychology. I saw some participants sobbing, angry, engaged, disengaged for some it appeared to change their views, their understanding. For others, it compounded them. I think the facilitators of SOTP do their best, the people who devised the programme and adapted it, did their best, the prison service who commissioned it – did so because it was the best they had available. Everyone is still learning, but everyone wants fewer victims! We shouldn’t condemn anyone for that.
I’m now working with Circles, and I wouldn't say we are perfect either. We are doing our best too. I do fundamentally agree with the principles of Circles more though. Our core members tell us that being surrounded by people who have never offended and have chosen to give up their own time to help the core member live an offence-free life is a powerful stuff. Yes, we have research and psychological evidence that Circles work but if you strip all that back you are left with something magic, basic but magic. Inclusion...
We are all social beings, we all want to belong, we are all impacted by those who surround us.
For the majority of the men we have worked with at re:shape the volunteers are the first positive peer group they have ever had. By being roles models, challenging, supporting, assisting behaviour modification, Circles mimic everything you and I are used to receiving from our nearest and dearest – think for a second. Isn’t this what has shaped your life?
I’m not sure what will happen to SOTP, or what should happen to it. What I am sure of though is that if we want to prevent further sexual abuse we need to keep trying, keep engaging, keep researching and keep INCLUDING.
Tammy Banks - Chief Executive Officer - re:shape