Circles of support and accountability for sex offenders in England and Wales: Their origins and implementation between 1999-2005

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) are an innovative, volunteer-based means of supervising sex offenders, usually upon release from prison, which were 'transplanted' from Canada to England and Wales at the turn of the 21st century. The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and the Lucy Faithful Foundation, were concerned with both the extreme demonisation of sex offenders in the press, and with the need to find better ways of safeguarding children from sexual abuse. The Home Office was simultaneously developing new mechanisms of public protection and funded three COSA pilot schemes between 2002 and 2005. The processes of development and implementation were essentially informal and improvised, crucially dependent on the choices, decisions, energy, status and reputations of particular individuals in particular places and networks. Circles flourished at the intersection of a nascent official concern with public protection, and the determination of faith-based professional activists (and others) to reaffirm the redeemability of sex offenders, but there was never a 'structural logic' which made the emergence of COSA inevitable. Drawing on information from the key players, this paper details the processes by which they came into being.
    LanguageEnglish
    JournalBritish Journal of Community Justice
    Volume7
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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    offender
    responsibility
    release from prison
    sexual violence
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    faith
    Canada
    energy

    Keywords

    • sex offenders
    • sexual abuse
    • public protection

    Cite this

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    abstract = "Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) are an innovative, volunteer-based means of supervising sex offenders, usually upon release from prison, which were 'transplanted' from Canada to England and Wales at the turn of the 21st century. The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and the Lucy Faithful Foundation, were concerned with both the extreme demonisation of sex offenders in the press, and with the need to find better ways of safeguarding children from sexual abuse. The Home Office was simultaneously developing new mechanisms of public protection and funded three COSA pilot schemes between 2002 and 2005. The processes of development and implementation were essentially informal and improvised, crucially dependent on the choices, decisions, energy, status and reputations of particular individuals in particular places and networks. Circles flourished at the intersection of a nascent official concern with public protection, and the determination of faith-based professional activists (and others) to reaffirm the redeemability of sex offenders, but there was never a 'structural logic' which made the emergence of COSA inevitable. Drawing on information from the key players, this paper details the processes by which they came into being.",
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