Police helping rehabilitate child sex offenders in Gloucestershire
DETAILS have emerged of how convicted paedophiles are being rehabilitated back into the community.
A successful programme run by Thames Valley Police has also been adopted by Gloucestershire police and in some cases is seen as more effective than a custodial sentence.
It comes after a string of high-profile cases in county courts.
His Honour Judge Jamie Tabor QC has sentenced several paedophiles in recent weeks at Gloucester Crown Court.
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Judge Tabor said he was encountering an increasing number of men on similar charges, each with a familiar background.
On sentencing one sex offender last month,, Judge Tabor said: "There has been a steady stream of defendants who have been caught looking at these kind of images. There is very often a common theme. Many are not young, but married and of good character.
"They say the sexual aspect of their marriage has broken down and so turned to online porn. But behind the images a little boy or girl has been outrageously abused."
A relationship breakdown is usually blamed as the trigger for them dipping into the murky world of online pornography, with each click sending them down a new corridor of disturbing images, often indecent shots of children.
The Thames Valley Sex Offender Group Programme aims to reduce the risk of future sexual offending.
Detective Inspector Sue Bradshaw, of the public protection bureau at Gloucestershire police, said the probation service-run programme was a valuable tool in helping offenders face their inner demons. She said: "It helps people to change their behaviours and to avoid further offending," she said. The court can order somebody to attend the programme as part of a community sentence or it could be a condition of a prison licence.
Det Insp Bradshaw added: "Participants are expected to talk about themselves, their thoughts, feelings and sexual offending. They learn ways of changing behaviour patterns and how to lead a lifestyle free of abusive behaviour.
"If a man doing the programme is a registered sex offender they are managed by a police officer. The responsible police officer is invited to attend a review session towards the end of the programme. This can be a useful opportunity to talk about what the person has learned about themselves, how their behaviour has affected victims, how they plan to keep themselves and others safe.
"As a result the individual's risks and strengths are better understood and can therefore be monitored by the man and also the professionals who continue to supervise him."