Preventing child sex offences

A child's drawing reflecting the work Circles does in the community.
A child's drawing reflecting the work Circles does in the community.

A new programme which works with ‘high-risk’ child sex offenders to prevent them from reoffending is coming to Lincolnshire.

Latest figures show there are nearly 700 registered sex offenders living in communities around the county.

Yorkshire and Humberside Circles of Support and Accountability (YHCOSA) is an innovative community response service working with high-risk child sex offenders to help to prevent them from reoffending.

Following a National Lottery grant, the scheme is expanding to Lincolnshire and looking for volunteers in Sleaford to come forward.

Tammy Banks, director of YHCOSA, said: “This is an excellent opportunity for Lincolnshire. Research shows that where circles do not exist, there is greater risk of further abuse to children and young people than in areas where there are circles.

“We are pleased to be able to offer a service that is proven to make a difference.

“In partnership with local police and probation, we will ensure we offer circles to the highest risk sexual offenders in your community. Our vision is ‘no more victims’.”

The organisation says social isolation and emotional loneliness are key factors in increasing the risk of reoffending.

Circles is an approach which consists of ordinary members of the community who volunteer to sit in a weekly circle with an offender.

The offenders, or ‘core members’ as they are known in YHCOSA, are held to account for what they have done and given a safe place to talk about how they are feeling and thinking. The circles provide a place of support to be honest about triggers that could lead to reoffending.

“We know there are nearly 700 people who have convictions for sexual offences living in Lincolnshire and circles provides a positive way to help the community stay safe,” said Tammy. “This cannot be achieved without volunteers.”

One volunteer explained: “Volunteering with Circles has given me a real chance to make a difference, not only to the life of the core member, but I also know I’m doing my bit to keep my children and others in the community safe.”

Tammy added: “For a few hours a week each week, these ordinary people do an extraordinary job.”

Circle volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and do not need to have any specific previous experiences or qualifications.

They just need to be enthusiastic and emotionally mature. They receive comprehensive training and on-going supervision and support.

l To volunteer, email in or call 01904 630911.