Hereford & Worcester

Helpline for paedophiles calls for support

Image caption The Lucy Faithfull Foundation said it missed up to 2,000 calls each month because it does not have enough staff to answer phones

A charity helpline for paedophiles worried about re-offending has called for more volunteers and funding as it deals with rising demand.

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation said its Stop it Now line was contacted 1,658 times by people worried about their behaviour in the 12 months up to May.

This compares with 58 in the first 12 months after its launch in June 2002.

The foundation said it missed up to 2,000 calls each month because it does not have enough staff to answer phones.

Donald Findlater, the charity's director of research and development, set up the service after decades of work with offenders.

"Many of them had had lots of thoughts on abusive behaviour towards children before they were ever convicted," he said.

"Quite a number of them were very clear that they didn't want these thoughts but that there was nowhere that you could get help.

"If there are even a handful of those men troubled by their sexual thoughts today, who don't want to do the harm they might do, then we have to give them a place to go."

Different approach

The charity, based in Alvechurch, Worcestershire, said its helpline - which is also used by people worried about the behaviour of others - is the only one of its kind in the UK.

Convicted paedophile Steve said having a phone number to talk to an adviser was a good way to deal with problems.

"When I started offending I really wanted to ask for help," he said.

Tom Leavesley, from Worcester, was abused as a child and works as an ambassador for other victims.

He said he was uneasy about idea of the helpline at first, but said understanding why paedophiles offend and preventing crimes before they take place is "a worthwhile investment".

"It's commendable of the organisation to try a different approach, because clearly what's been tried thus far has failed," he said.

"Prevention has to form part of the overall strategy."

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