Sexual Offenders and Offender Behaviour

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Critically evaluate the current methods employed in the Sex Offender Treatment Programmes (SOTP). Include in your answer an overview of their theoretical foundations Sexual offenders are complex individuals for the Criminal Justice System (CJS) to effectively deal with. The offences committed by these individuals are recognized as serious and harmful to both their victims and the general public. Crown Prosecution Service (2010) stated the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (the Act) came into force on the 1 May 2004. It repealed almost all of the existing statute law in relation to sexual offences. The purpose of the Act was to strengthen and modernise the law on sexual offences, whilst improving preventative measures and the protection of individuals from sexual offenders. The handling of these offenders is often made more complicated for the government and criminal justice system as notorious cases are more often than not never far from the fierce view of the media. The way in which sex offenders are portrayed by the media is as lonely, predatory sociopaths who are in many ways extremely different to the rest of society, shown by headlines such as ‘Pervert in motor with girl and boy’ (The Sun, 2012) and ‘Judge lets new perv walk free’ (Pyatt, 2008). This view has become instilled into the modern day British public whether the offenders are treated or not. The aim of this essay is to critically evaluate the current methods employed in the Sex Offender Treatment Programmes (SOTP), looking at why they exist, the current methods that are in place, and whether they are effective at treating sex offenders. A sex offence is the ’... commission of acts of a sexual nature against a person without that persons consent’ (Hale, C. 2005, Pg 574). There are many different types of sex offenders such as those who offend against adults, against children and those who take the form of sexual murderers. The sex offending itself takes many forms, from the man who indecently exposes himself the man who possesses illegal pornography to the man who offends against his children (Thomas, T. 2000 Pg, 1). In the 21st century there has been a huge concern surrounding these crimes and their offenders from the government, general public and the media. Whilst it is essential to recognize that the nature of these crimes without a doubt make them some of the most damaging to their victims and society, it is also important to mention that sexual offending is a worldwide phenomenon, for example in England and Wales the latest statistics, from Jansson, Povey and Kaiza (2007) for the years 2006-2007, report that the police recorded 57,542 sexual offences (which is under 1% of all of the recorded crime for this period) (Beech, Leam, Browne. 2009. Pg 1). However despite these small numbers, the anxiety and fear from the public surrounding these offences is a prevalent one, ‘arguably influenced by the media’s increased coverage and representations of sex crime’ (Brown, 2005). The public are fearful of this type of crime even though it constitutes such a small percentage of all crimes only 5% of violent crimes and 0.77% of all crimes recorded by England and Wales 2001 (Simmons, et al, 2002, cited in McGuire, 2004, Pg 96). It could be argued that the public’s anxiety and fear of sex offenders is a moral panic often caused by the media’s depiction of this type of offence. The fight against sex offending however has the tendency to be high on the government’s agenda as they argue sexual crime and in particular the fear of sexual crime has a profound and damaging effect on the social fabric of communities (Home Office, 2006, Pg 7). In 1991 the Criminal Justice System toughened the sentences given to sexual offenders, making this particular group of offenders more eligible for custody. This first of a wave of legislation put into place throughout the 1990s, toughened penalties, extended sentences and increased the monitoring of offenders within prison and in the community....
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