Centre for Criminal Justice Studies School of Law University of Leeds. Research Studentship

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1 Centre for Criminal Justice Studies School of Law University of Leeds Research Studentship Assessing the impact of Circles of Support and Accountability on the reintegration of those convicted of sexual offences into the community This three-year fully funded PhD studentship is the result of a partnership between the University of Leeds, the University of Nottingham and Circles UK. Circles UK is a charitable organisation that has been set up to oversee a number of Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) projects in England and Wales and it is these which will be the focus of the study. Circles UK have received funding from the Wates Foundation in order to assess the extent to which COSA projects contribute towards the reintegration of sex offenders in the community. Further details of the proposed research activities are provided below. The studentship forms part of a wider research study and will provide the successful applicant with an opportunity to work on an externally funded project which is already tightly structured and focussed. The student will be closely supervised by Dr Catherine Appleton and Dr Anthea Hucklesby from the University of Leeds, and Dr Birgit Völlm from the University of Nottingham. It also has the advantage of guaranteed access to an innovative community initiative aimed at reducing sexual offending across England and Wales. The project will not only enable the student to gain a PhD but to develop valuable research skills including working closely with criminal justice professionals and voluntary agencies. The research focuses on the reintegration of sex offenders into the community. It will therefore be particularly suitable for applicants with research interests in the areas of offender rehabilitation, desistance from crime, what works, resettlement of offenders and the social integration of sex offenders. The project involves the collection of administrative data about the work of Circles of Support and interviews with a range of individuals including sex offenders, volunteers and criminal justice professionals. The successful candidate will be required to liaise with a wide range of people in order to facilitate the research. They will also be required to come into close contact with convicted sex offenders, carrying out face-toface interviews with a number of sex offenders living in the community across the UK. The research will involve extensive travel (which will be reimbursed) and overnight stays away from home. The nature of the project requires that the successful candidate will be required to undertake a Criminal Records Bureau check at enhanced level. 1

2 The successful applicant will be based in the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies within the School of Law at the University of Leeds. The School of Law has a strong international research culture and was awarded an outstanding rating in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. The Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, a sub-unit of the School of Law, has a successful and thriving research degrees programme. The Centre excels in the production of research that is empirically rich, conceptually sophisticated and policy relevant. In 2005 the University of Leeds recognised the Centre as one if its key peaks of research excellence. It has an excellent track record of completed research degrees and offers excellent advanced research training opportunities. The studentship therefore provides an exciting opportunity for gaining a wide range of research skills and experience, as well as participating in the intellectual life of a leading centre of criminological teaching and research. For further information about the Centre see: The award covers full UK/EU tuition fees plus a tax-free maintenance stipend ( 13,290 for 2009/10) for each of the three years of study. Funds will also be provided towards travel costs incurred and conference attendance. Person specification Candidates will be selected on the basis of the following criteria: Essential A good first degree of at least an upper second class honours in criminology, sociology, psychology, law or related social science discipline (lower performance in undergraduate studies may be enhanced by attainment in a Masters degree); A high level of interpersonal and communication skills, including written skills; An understanding of qualitative and quantitative research methods; Ability to demonstrate the potential to carry out high quality research in line with the outlined research project (details provided below); Good personal management and independent organisational skills, including the ability to take initiative, manage time effectively and prioritise tasks; Ability to work independently but also successfully as a team member; Be comfortable with the nature of the research subject matter; Have the capacity to maintain confidentiality; Ability to work on a research project involving close collaboration with both academic and non-academic partners; Good computing and administrative skills; A willingness to travel and stay away from home overnight. Desirable A postgraduate qualification in criminology, sociology, psychology, law, social research methods or related social science discipline, or an expectation of finishing such a qualification; Extensive research training and/or research experience; Demonstrable qualitative and quantitative research skills and experience of using NVivo, SPSS and/or other software; Relevant work experience whether in business, policy and the voluntary or public sector; Knowledge and a keen interest in the rehabilitation and social integration of convicted sex offenders; An awareness of the practicalities and potential problems of undertaking research with sex offenders. 2

3 There is no application form. If you would like to apply for this studentship, please send a detailed CV together with a letter of application explaining your suitability for and interest in this studentship, via , to: Ms Lindsey Hill Human Resources and Finance Co-ordinator School of Law, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT. Please also provide the contact details of two people who are prepared to give you a reference for this studentship, one of whom must be from an academic institution. Informal inquiries are welcome and should be directed to Dr Catherine Appleton, tel: +44 (0) , Closing date for applications: 5.00pm on 13 November

4 Assessing the impact of Circles of Support and Accountability on the reintegration of those convicted of sexual offences into the community Research Proposal Dr Catherine Appleton and Dr Anthea Hucklesby, University of Leeds Dr Birgit Völlm, University of Nottingham The reintegration and risk management of individuals convicted of sexual offences in the community has been described as perhaps the most controversial of all contemporary correctional issues (Wilson et al., 2007a: 289). Understandably, members of the public often have strong opinions about the release of sex offenders into the community, and to some extent this has been reflected in contemporary policy and practice (O Malley, 2004). Nevertheless, the majority of those imprisoned for sexual offences will, at some point, return to the community. In recent years there has been a growth in the number of restorative practices for sex offenders released into the community, including the development of Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA). COSA originated in Canada in 1994 as a community response to manage the risks presented by sex offenders released from custody. The COSA model recognises that many individuals who have been convicted of sexual offences are socially isolated and literally provides a circle of support for offenders following release from prison (Silverman and Wilson, 2002). Each Circle comprises a group of four to six trained volunteers with whom the offender, or Core Member, will have a substantial amount of contact. Volunteers provide social and practical support in areas such as accommodation, education and employment, family and relationships. Significantly, they are also trained to assist offenders with relapse prevention, challenge risk behaviour and notify statutory agencies (police, probation, Multi- Agency Public Protection Panels) if Core Members behaviour or attitudes raise concerns about reoffending (Kemshall and Maguire, 2003). The COSA initiative was first piloted in England and Wales in 2002 by two agencies. Following positive outcomes and developments, and a growing confidence in the success of the model, the Ministry of Justice encouraged a wider roll-out of COSA through the establishment of the charitable organisation, Circles UK (www.circles-uk.org.uk). Circles UK was set up to develop and ensure consistency across a growing number of COSA projects. There are now nine COSA projects in operation across England and Wales who are members of the umbrella charity, Circles UK. Research on the impact of COSA, however, remains limited. Wilson et al. (2007a) report findings from an evaluation of a COSA pilot project in Canada. They found that the COSA initiative was a significant factor in the reintegration of core members and had a profound effect on all stakeholders (Wilson et al., 2007a: 289). The researchers also found that offenders who participated in the COSA pilot project had significantly lower rates of reoffending than a matched group of high-risk sex offenders (Wilson et al., 2007b). However, less is known about the impact of COSA on the reintegration of released sex offenders in England and Wales and on the reduction of reoffending rates amongst medium and high-risk offenders, who largely comprise Core Members (for an exploratory study of one of the pilot projects, see Bates, et al., 2007). This research project seeks to redress this by providing an in-depth assessment of the operation and impact of COSA across England and Wales. 4

5 Aim and objectives The overall aim of the research project is to assess the extent to which Circles of Support and Accountability contribute towards the reintegration of released sex offenders in the community in England and Wales. The more specific objectives of the research project are to: Examine the operation and frontline practices of COSA; Describe the cohort of Core Members who have completed or are currently in a Circle; Explore the experiences of Core Members; Identify the key components which are associated with reintegration in the community; Explore the background, motivation and experiences of volunteers; Investigate the links between the operation of COSA and statutory provisions for sex offenders, such as Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), probation and the police; Assess the relative importance of factors and services in the process of reintegration for sex offenders; Identify key factors which may contribute towards assessing the impact of COSA on reoffending to enable Circles UK to set up data systems to develop further research on the effectiveness of COSA; Contribute towards the development of good practice. Methodology A number of complementary methods will be used during the research period. These will include: (i) Literature review A multi-disciplinary literature review will be carried out exploring key areas, such as, working with sex offenders, factors that influence what works and the resettlement of ex-prisoners and theories of rehabilitation and desistance from crime. This will form an integral part of the research process and will be ongoing throughout the course of this study. (ii) Administrative data Data collected by each COSA project in England and Wales will be identified. Socio-demographic, offending and risk data as well as operational details (source of referral, time in COSA, work undertaken etc.) will be collected on all past and present Core Members, complemented by new members joining in the course of research. These data will be collated and included in an interim report to enable Circles UK to develop a database for use across projects in the long-term. (iii) Interviews with Core Members A sample of Core Members will be interviewed across the different COSA Projects, all of whom will have been part of a Circle for at least 12 months. We estimate that approximately 30 Core Members will be interviewed face-to-face using a semi-structured interview schedule. These interviews will focus on offenders backgrounds, experiences in prison, probation and MAPPA interventions, experiences of COSA, living arrangements, support structures and offenders assessments of the impact of COSA on various factors, including offending behaviour and attitudes. (iv) Interviews with volunteers A sample of volunteers across the different COSA Projects will either be interviewed (face-to-face or telephone interviews) or invited to take part in a focus group. Interviews will cover volunteers backgrounds, motivations and experiences of COSA, the training and support they receive, and the perceived benefits for the Core Members and wider community. We envisage interviews taking place with around 20 volunteers. (v) Interviews with key stakeholders Twenty interviews with key stakeholders will be conducted including police, probation and Multi-Agency Public Protection Panels. 5

6 References Bates, A., Saunders, R. and Wilson, C. (2007) Doing something about it: A follow-up study of sex offenders participating in Thames valley Circles of Support and Accountability, British Journal of Community Justice, 5(1): Kemshall, H. and Maguire, M. (2003) Sex offenders, risk penality and the problem of disclosure to the community, in A. Matravers (ed.) Sex Offenders in the Community: Managing and Reducing the Risks, Cullompton: Willan Publishing. O Malley, P. (2004) The uncertain promise of risk, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 37(3): Silverman, J. and Wilson, D. (2002) Innocence Betrayed: Paedophilia, the Media and Society, Cambridge: Polity Press. Wilson, R., Picheca, J., Prinzo, M. (2007a) Evaluating the effectiveness of professionallyfacilitated volunteerism in the community-based management of high-risk sexual offenders: Part one effects on participants and stakeholders, The Howard Journal, 46(3): Wilson, R., Picheca, J., Prinzo, M. (2007b) Evaluating the effectiveness of professionallyfacilitated volunteerism in the community-based management of high-risk sexual offenders: Part two A comparison of recidivism rates, The Howard Journal, 46(4):

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