Criminal justice agencies across Cleveland will be better informed about how to prevent child sexual offences thanks to pioneering research funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland and the Big Lottery.
The research, called Motivations of Child Sexual Exploitation Offenders: Disrupt, Treat, Manage?, was completed by Barefoot Research and examines the backgrounds, motivations and approaches of offenders, as well identifying possible points of intervention.
The research has proved so ground breaking that over 200 delegates from across the country will attend a conference being held in Middlesbrough tomorrow (wed march 28) during which the findings will be shared and discussed.
During this initial study, Dr Christopher Hartworth and his team carried out a series of interviews with local male offenders who have been convicted of child sexual exploitation.
A number of themes emerged through the interviews and it is hoped this information can be used to shape future strategies to reduce offending and improve victim response.
Key findings highlight the need to introduce warnings on online portals such as dating sites to deter potential offenders and offer specialist support for those at risk of offending.
The research developed out of a realisation that little attempt had been made to consult with those who perpetrate exploitation, other than during police interviews, which may be a significant omission in efforts to address the crime and its effects.
National interest in the findings of the study led to the conference being organised with representatives of police, probation and health services, local authorities, prisons, childrens services and the voluntary sector due to attend.
It is hoped this can lead to an expansion of the research beyond Cleveland, widening the sample size and including work on different types of exploitation.
Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, said: “Protecting the vulnerable is a central pillar of my police and crime plan and the force will leave no stone unturned in its determination to bring to justice anyone guilty of child sexual exploitation.
“At the same time it is important that we better understand why people offend in this way and what can be done to protect potential victims, prevent re-offending and deter others from going down this path.
“Already this ground breaking research has uncovered themes within offending that will prove extremely useful in tackling this issue in Cleveland. By sharing this information and hopefully widening this area of research we can help tackle this problem nationally.”
Director of Barefoot Research, Dr Christopher Hartworth, conducted the study and has hopes that it can be extended to neighbouring regions.
He said: “This research is ground-breaking, because when it began we were the only place in the UK trying to gather information from perpetrators to work out better ways to prevent and stop exploitation of children and young people.”
Nicky Harkin, Chief Executive of Arch North East, said: “I’m so pleased the PCC and the Big Lottery have funded this research. It will allow our service offer to be better informed and provide a reassurance to victims that what happened to them is absolutely not their fault.”
A full copy of the research can be downloaded from www.barefootresearch.org.uk
Posted on Wednesday 28th March 2018