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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

An explorative study on perpetrators of child sexual exploitation convicted alongside others

Prevention and disruption

Perceived responsibility of parents, police and social services

For those in groups B and C, attempts to discuss possible prevention and disruption strategies were largely hindered by a diffusion and displacement of responsibility. As is more common among people convicted of sexual offences (compared to other crimes), participants in group B engaged in defensive externalisation, attributing responsibility to the victim, parents and caregivers, schools and local authorities, police and other statutory agencies.

Seeking help confidentially

Participants, largely those in group A, who admitted a sexual attraction to children, acknowledged their obligation to prevent children and young people being harmed. They stated that at the time of their offence, they did not feel there was anywhere or anyone to turn to, to speak to about the thoughts, urges and fantasies they were experiencing. Participants stated they would have valued being able to access support before committing a crime. Some reported negative experiences with charities after they had been arrested, saying they felt judged.

Perceived positive impact of the justice system

Some participants felt they had benefited from treatment and therapy in prison, but they tended to be in groups A and C. One participant from group A, who admitted his offence, described he had benefited from the peer support he had got while in prison. There were other benefits to the justice system, such as access to education or help coming off substances, that were noted. Several participants (largely those in groups A and C) discussed the restrictions they would have on them on release as beneficial. Those who rejected the label of ‘sex offender’ found it difficult to be in prisons for those solely convicted of sexual offences.

Limited understanding about offences

Many of the participants across the groups proclaimed a lack of knowledge about their behaviour constituting a criminal offence (especially those with conspiracy and trafficking offences), which highlighted a potential need for education as a prevention mechanism.

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