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Thursday 27 Nov 2014

Press Release

BBC Inside Out investigates controversial rehabilitation programme

A BBC documentary will this week seek to find out why volunteers in Yorkshire are giving their time to befriend and support convicted paedophiles.

The sex offenders – who are all at high risk of reoffending – are part of a controversial rehabilitation programme called Circles, which asks people from the community to "befriend" convicted paedophiles in order to provide a supportive social network.

A pilot scheme has recently come to an end in North Yorkshire and in BBC One's Inside Out programme, at 7.30pm on Monday 15 November, presenter Jamie Coulson talks to the head of the organisation about the kind of people who have been persuaded to volunteer to work with paedophiles.

Stephen Hanvey says: "Our volunteers include barristers, hairdressers, engineers and the retired."

The Circle's literature explains that the aim of the organisation is to provide support and practical guidance to paedophiles leaving prison in such things as developing social skills, finding suitable accommodation or finding appropriate hobbies and interests.

Volunteers are fully informed of the person's past pattern of offending and, whilst helping them to settle into the community, the volunteers also assist the "core member" to recognise patterns of thought and behaviour that could lead to their re-offending. The Canadian government recently put £4m of public money into the Circles projects.

One of the volunteers interviewed in the programme is a man from South Yorkshire. He says: "Yes, they've committed a heinous crime – we all know they've committed absolutely heinous crimes, but look beyond the crime and look at the person.

"We've tried everything else ... we've been punitive ... it hasn't worked. If we go down this route, we give people the tools to live in our society... and I think that's what we want."


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