Desistance from Sexual Offending and Risk Management
This chapter focuses on empirical research exploring desistance from sexual offending in a sample of 15 men, convicted of at least 1 sexual offence involving a child. The men had served prison sentences of varying lengths and had since been residing in the community for periods ranging from 1 to 15 years. Risk management practices adopted by supervising police officers appeared to vary widely, both across and within police force areas.
Findings indicate that respondents in receipt of a rigid law enforcement model of risk management solely based on strategies that control and mitigate risk were less likely to view their supervision as legitimate, more likely to develop an antagonistic attitude to their supervising police officer, and less likely to experience desistance involving internal change. Instead, desistance appeared to be underpinned by simple deterrence. In contrast, those in receipt of a strengths-based approach to risk management, involving the development and strengthening of client’s protective factors, were more likely to report a good relationship with their police officer and experience desistance involving (often slowly emerging) identity change. The Active Risk Management System (ARMS), a structured risk assessment and management planning tool designed to assess both dynamic factors known to be related to sexual recidivism, together with protective factors that might support the desistance process, has recently been implemented across all police forces in England and Wales. Findings from the current research indicate that this approach is more likely to encourage desistance involving internal change in this offender type.
KeywordsDesistance Sexual offending Risk
This research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, award ES/J500215/1
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