Wales

April Jones's father: Paedophile therapy 'the way forward'

Paul and Coral Jones Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Paul Jones and his wife Coral want more action against indecent images of children on the internet

The father of murdered April Jones has said an organisation which offers treatment to paedophiles before they offend is "the way forward".

StopSO has offered therapy to 120 people - 18 based in Wales - who are non-offending paedophiles and sexual offenders.

The south Wales-based organisation has said it needs more funding to carry on.

Paul Jones, of Machynlleth, Powys, whose daughter was killed by Mark Bridger, is supporting its work.

Bridger, who will spend the rest of his life in jail, had previously searched for child abuse and rape images before he abducted five-year-old April from near her home in October 2012.

Set up in the same year with a grant from Gwent's police and crime commissioner, StopSO has offered therapy to paedophiles who have offended and those who have not, but have asked for help.

It works as an agency to train private therapists throughout the UK.

Founder Juliet Grayson said: "What we really want to do is not only stop the second offence. But at StopSO we want to stop the first offence."

Mr Jones, who has campaigned for more action against indecent images of children on the internet, told the BBC's Eye on Wales programme that he thought the work was important.

Image copyright Used by Wales Today 25/5
Image caption April Jones was abducted and murdered in October 2012

"It's a glimmer of hope in the future," he said.

"They're trying to offer help to paedophiles before they become offenders - it's the way forward. Prevention has to be the key."

Forensic psychologist Prof Robert Snowden of Cardiff University said the definition of a paedophile is someone who is primarily attracted to pre-pubescent children, and it is recognised as a sexual orientation.

"We don't really equate paedophilia and child molestation. Paedophilia is the sexual attraction; child molestation is the offence," he said.

Chris (not his real name) describes himself as a paedophile. He has never harmed a child and never wants to, but said his sexuality was starting to take a toll on his life.

"I was blaming myself and I'd got myself in to a situation where mentally I felt I was rubbish," he added.

"There was a period of time when I wanted to take my own life."

Chris came across StopSO online and was soon put in touch with a therapist near him.

He completed a course of cognitive behavioural therapy which he said changed his life.

In Gwent, where there are more therapists and awareness of StopSO's work due to the seed funding from the police and crime commissioner's office, 60% of those coming forward are referring themselves and have had no contact with the authorities.

But Ms Grayson said the organisation needs more funds.

"Provided we can get that, I think we can really make a change and revolutionise the way we think about this."

The issue for Ms Grayson is how to prove StopSO works. She is in the process of setting up monitoring procedures so she can gather evidence.

The Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner's office told Eye On Wales it will need that evidence before it puts any more funds in to StopSO.

  • Eye on Wales, BBC Radio Wales, 12:30 GMT, Sunday 15 November.

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