Circles of Support and Accountability is a voluntary initiative that assists people with convictions for sexual offences to resettle in the community. People leaving prison with such convictions often have difficulties in resettling. They carry the burden of the conviction itself, which may be both stigmatising and isolating, and they are the subject of sex offender register requirements, parole and other supervisory conditions.
Circles of Support and Accountability in the UK started over ten years ago and have slowly spread across the country. They work closely with the police and probation services but rely entirely on volunteers prepared to give up their time to work with people often otherwise shunned by communities. Circles offer support to the person concerned but also hold them accountable for their future behaviour. They aim to ensure there are ‘no more victims’.
This book is based on original research and provides a close-up picture of how these Circles of Support and Accountability work in practice. It brings together for the first time the voices of all the participants, from the offenders and the volunteers through to the Coordinators who link the volunteers to the professionals in the form of the police and probation services.
The research was commissioned by Circles UK and funded by the Wates Foundation and the University of Leeds, School of Law.
Table of Contents
2. The Management and Supervision of Sex Offenders in the Community
3. Circles of Support and Accountability
4. From ‘Containment’ to the ‘Good Life’
5. The Core Members
6. The Volunteers
7. The Professionals
8. Communication, Collaboration and Information Exchange
David Thompson is a lecturer of Criminology at the University of Sheffield. He recently completed his PhD thesis Moving on After Getting Out: Support and Accountability for Sex Offenders which also examined the role of Circles of Support and Accountability.
Terry Thomas is Emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice at Leeds Beckett University. His most recent publications are Sex Crime: Sex Offending and Society (2016, Routledge) and The Policing of Sexual Offences and Sex Offenders (2016, Palgrave Macmillan).
"Written by two experts in the field of sex offender reintegration, this unique book is based on original empirical data. By including the voices of core members, volunteers and professionals in one volume this book offers a highly innovative and important contribution to the increasing literature base on Circles of Support and Accountability. It is suitable for practitioners, policymakers, academics and students alike."
Dr Karen Harrison, Senior Lecturer in the Law School, University of Hull, UK
"An interesting and full account into the experience of being part of a Circle Project. This new book guides the reader through the workings of a Circle, drawing on the views of Core Members, professionals working within this multi-agency setting, as well as the crucial contribution and experiences of Circle Volunteers. In doing so it offers practical findings and insights to practitioners and policy makers working in this field, as well as criminology academics and students".
Dr Kirsty Hudson, Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, UK