We Want to Stop People Reaching the Point of Offending; No-One Is beyond Helping Paddy to the Head Prevention Working Sex Offenders; Paddy Shennan Talks to the Head of a New Prevention Service Working with Potential Sex Offenders

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), November 8, 2018 | Go to article overview

We Want to Stop People Reaching the Point of Offending; No-One Is beyond Helping Paddy to the Head Prevention Working Sex Offenders; Paddy Shennan Talks to the Head of a New Prevention Service Working with Potential Sex Offenders


Byline: paddy shennan

A PIONEERING initiative aims to prevent potential offenders from carrying out sex crimes.

The Mersey Care Prevention Service, part of the Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, is staffed by psychologists with years of experience working with adults who have committed sexual offences.

The work they have previously done has been aimed at stopping reoffending, but this service seeks to prevent people from becoming offenders.

We talked to Dr Lisa Wright - a clinical psychologist with the Mersey Forensic Psychology Service and head of the initiative - how the scheme works.

How did the service begin? "Merseyside Police recognised that some of the people they have arrested for sexual abuse offences may not have gone on to commit these offences if they had received help with their thoughts and feelings earlier. We jointly developed a service to prevent people reaching the point of sexual offending by intervening earlier.

"Many of the people we know with sexual convictions say that they would have welcomed help to prevent them from acting on their feelings, but they did not know where to go at that time.

"Staff started designing the service in April, 2017, but it wasn't launched and open to referrals until earlier this year. Referrals are just beginning. We hope to reach more people through this article."

Is this a groundbreaking service exclusive to Merseyside? "There are other services across the country, mostly charities, who also aim to prevent sexual abuse, but ours is the only service we know of that uses in-depth psychological therapy to produce long-term change in the feelings that may lead to someone sexually offending."

How do you make initial contact with your clients - or vice versa? "This is one of the challenges.

People who experience sexual thoughts and feelings about children, for example, are often extremely distressed by this. They did not ask for or want to feel this way and can be desperate for help in understanding where these feelings have come from and why they won't go away.

"However, they can assume that others will judge them negatively and are fearful of coming forward. We do not approach any individual directly.

Some they can live attraction, unwanted, Dr Lisa Wright psychologist Forensic Psychology "Referrals are from GPs, counsellors, police, social services and other professionals. Ind-ividuals can self-refer - however, it is difficult to advertise a service of this type without gaining negative publicity. One of the concerns clients have expressed is around the involvement of the police, and fears that they will get involved in their case. The police are not directly involved in the assessment and delivery of therapy; however, should someone disclose illegal activity, we will pass it on to the police as we still have to adhere to Mersey Care's policies and procedures and work within the law."

find with this although What are the most common things the service addresses? a clinical the Mersey Service "We will see people who experience thoughts and feelings that could lead to sexual harm. This could be the temptation to look at sexual images of children on the internet, a desire to engage in physical violence during sex, the urge to sexually assault another adult or to expose oneself in public. The most frequent problem we see is a sexual attraction to children, which could lead to looking at illegal images or to the physical sexual abuse of a child. Some individuals find they can live with this attraction, although unwanted, without acting upon it, whereas others really struggle. The therapy we do here is aimed at weakening the problem sexual attraction and therefore the likelihood the person will act on it. …

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