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REVIEW OF RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT FOR SEX OFFENDERS ANNOUNCED

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The National Probation Service is launching a national review of how ...
The National Probation Service is launching a national review of how

sites can be found to provide more residential treatment for sex

offenders.

The review, announced yesterday in a written parliamentary question by

Home Office minister Hilary Benn, is designed to reduce sex offences

by extending the number of places available for residential

treatment. It will include an up-to-date assessment of how many

offenders require residential treatment, alongside non-residential

treatment in the community and treatment in prison. It will also seek

to establish a consensus that public protection can only be improved

further if potential locations can be readily identified and

developed.

The National Probation Directorate also announced today that the

Wolvercote Clinic, run by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation (LFF), will

cease to operate at Horton Hospital in Epsom, due to redevelopment.

Well-established contingency arrangements for the nine remaining

residents at the Wolvercote Clinic are being implemented. The clinic

and the National Probation Service will relocate residents separately

out of Surrey where their treatment will be completed on a

non-residential basis and, for those under licence or supervision,

their formal contact with the authorities will continue. In each

case, plans have been developed with the help of local police and

probation areas, and staff from the clinic will continue to work with

those past residents to reduce the risk of re-offending.

The National Probation Service will continue to provide financial

support to the Lucy Faithfull Foundation to ensure they retain their

skilled staff and have the capacity to remain a key partner for the

National Probation Service. They will continue to be involved in the

establishment of 'Stop It Now' and Circles of Support and

Accountability. Staff will also continue to provide training and

consultancy in child protection to probation, police and others.

Hilary Benn also announced that the possible use of the Silverlands

site near Chertsey for the clinic will not now be pursued, but the

National Probation Service will offer to continue the dialogue with

local residents to see what can be learnt and how community

involvement might be better managed in the future. Responsibility for

the property and its future use will remain with the Department of

Health.

Hilary Benn, minister for community and custodial provision, said:

'The National Probation Service will now undertake a thorough look at

how residential sex offender treatment might be run in the future and

start planning for new provision which is wider than the single

clinic we have had so far. This is an important part of the service's

duty to protect the public.'

Eithne Wallis, national director for the National Probation Service

said:

'We know that there is always going to be a degree of local

opposition to any site we pick, but we first need to have a debate -

away from the discussion of any particular site - to reach a

consensus about why and how many of these establishments we need. We

have a duty to protect the public and we need the provision to take

on that work.

'Given the important work that the Wolvercote Clinic does in child

protection, we are disappointed that we have not been able to achieve

a smooth transition for its relocation. We will however continue to

support the Clinic and will, as a priority, work with the Lucy

Faithfull Foundation so they retain their valuable staff until a new

site can be found.'

Hilary Eldridge, director of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation said:

'It is with great regret that we have to close Wolvercote without a

designated site for relocation. This is disappointing given that we

have been working collaboratively with government departments for

several years to establish a permanent site.

'We welcome the National Probation Service's commitment to reopen

Wolvercote as a matter of priority and to expand the number of

residential places available nationally. We value the jointly agreed

contingency arrangements which ensure out-patient treatment of

ex-residents and employment for our expert team. Timing is of the

utmost importance. If we can reopen quickly then the expertise will

be retained and the Clinic can continue to treat the men who need it.

'The way forward lies in greater inter-departmental and multi-agency

joint ownership of the problem and determination to succeed, together

with greater public education about the prevention and management of

child sexual abuse.'

Valerie Howarth, Lucy Faithfull Foundation vice chair of

trustees said: 'Child sexual abuse is a major problem: we need more

resources, not less. Whilst acknowledging the excellent work done by

the Probation Service, the closure of Wolvercote represents a

reduction in available services and Wolvercote fills an important

niche in the range of treatment.'

Notes

- The Lucy Faithfull Foundation which runs the Wolvercote Clinic is a

charity dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child sexual

abuse.

- Wolvercote treats men who civil and criminal courts, police, social

services, the Prison and Probation Service have judged as needing

residential treatment. Research shows it is effective in reducing

their risk to children. Wolvercote also offers a residential

assessment-only service providing detailed information about

treatment need and risk, allowing public protection agencies and

local communities to better manage that risk.

- Wolvercote has been at its existing site for seven years with over 300

men attending for assessment or treatment. In this time there has

been no incidence of any local child being put at risk by the

clinic's existence.

- The clinic is supported by local child protection agencies who

value its help on local issues.

- The clinic is internationally renowned, using its expertise to

provide training placements and advice to agencies across Europe

about child sexual abuse. This includes sexual abuse prevention,

work with children and families and sex offender assessment,

treatment and management.

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