Could your help be the key to reducing sex offences in area?

Volunteers are needed to form a Circle of Support and Accountability in south Lincolnshire. ANL-150821-155758001
Volunteers are needed to form a Circle of Support and Accountability in south Lincolnshire. ANL-150821-155758001
0
Have your say

High risk child offenders in south Lincolnshire are likely to re-offend when they come back into society – unless they have your support.

The warning comes as former Swineshead man Gary Taylor (48) was jailed for eight years for a string of “horrendous and harrowing” sexual assaults on children.

Taylor was sentenced at Lincoln Crown Court last week after admitting sexual activity in the presence of a child, causing and inciting children into prostitution and pornography and making indecent photographs of 
children. He also pleaded guilty to possession of indecent images of children, including extreme pornography and voyeurism.

At the same time, Karen McNulty, a former partner of Taylor’s of Boston, was given a prison sentence of four years ten months after previously admitting to charges of child sexual assault, sexual activity in the presence of a child and voyeurism.

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

But according to a Yorkshire and Humberside charity, YOU may hold the key to preventing re-offending just by being there to offer support and a listening ear to offenders.

Yorkshire and Humberside Circles of Support and Accountability (YHCOSA) is an innovative community response service working with high-risk child sex offenders with the aim of reducing the number of potential new victims – and it is looking for volunteers in the south lincolnshire area.

Tammy Banks, director of YHCOSA, said: “We know there are nearly 700 people who have convictions for sexual offences living in Lincolnshire.

“One day the two offenders from south Lincolnshire who were jailed last week will be released back into the community. If communities want to be able to stay safe, they need to be willing to be involved in making this possible.”

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

Statistics for the county on the police.uk website show violence and sexual offences has been on the rise again since March, with 186 cases recorded from July 2014 to June this year.

Cases show a sharp rise in winter, peaking in December 2014 when there were 23 incidents.

Violence and sexual offences remain the second biggest problem facing police next to anti-social behaviour, with 17 incidents in June,

One former offender, now a core member of a Circle, said: “The most important thing for me is that I’m challenged on my behaviour. If I’m on my own no-one’s there to correct me.”

Others said: “Having a Circle has changed my life. All I knew about was offending, I have a different outlook now and believe with continued support I won’t re-offend.

“What would you rather have – someone with a Circle around them to keep them accountable or someone who’s free to do what they like unchecked?”

At the moment there is no Circle in the area, but as soon as volunteers are in place, police say they are ready to offer referrals. A spokesman said: “We expect to receive referrals for offenders from all over Lincolnshire and will initially need to focus on where we have volunteers. Circles can only run when we have enough volunteers from the local area.”

A member of the probation service is also hoping there will soon be a Circle in place in south Lincolnshire.

The spokesman said: “I was really unsure of the project before it started – concerns about what it could offer and volunteers being too soft, but I’m completely converted.”

A volunteer working in another part of the country said: “If I can sit here for an hour a week and it reduces the risk of someone re-offending, it’s worth it.”

Another said: “I have two children myself. I feel a responsibility to keeping them and others safe.”

CIRCLES ARE ORDINARY PEOPLE DOING AN EXTRAORDINARY JOB

Circles is coming to Lincolnshire thanks to a £2 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

This means that over the next four years nearly 200 more high-risk offenders in seven areas of England will receive support in the community once released from prison.

Locally, this funding means that Yorkshire & Humberside Circles of Support and Accountability (YHCOSA) will now be expanding into Lincolnshire.

YHCOSA is dedicated to breaking the vicious circle of re-offending.

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.

“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’.”

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’, 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.

Tammy said: “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.

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

“Core members 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 re-offending.

“The volunteers are the magic ingredient. 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. Volunteers receive comprehensive training and on-going supervision and support.

*If you are interested in volunteering email fo@yhcosa.org.uk or call 01904 630911.

WHO TO CALL IF YOU SUSPECT ABUSE

It is estimated that child sex abuse costs the UK £3.2bn a year.

* According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCc), one in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused.

* Nearly 30,000 registered offenders have been convicted of offences against children.

* Last year, 23,000 sexual offences against children were recorded.

* More than 2,800 children were identified as needing protection from sexual abuse.

* The NSPCC had 7,300 contacts about sexual abuse.

* One in three children sexually abused by an adult did not tell anyone.

* Over 90 per cent of sexually abused children were abused by someone they knew.

* More than 18,600 children talked to ChildLine last year about sexual abuse.

* One thousand young people talked to ChildLine last year about online sexual abuse.

Call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 and Childline on 0800 1111.