Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSAs): Their use and development for young people with learning disabilities who exhibit sexually harmful behaviour in England

Hillyard, Susan (2018) Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSAs): Their use and development for young people with learning disabilities who exhibit sexually harmful behaviour in England. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

A Circle of Support and Accountability (CoSA) is an offender support model associated with high risk adult sex offenders after release from prison. It works by establishing a supportive social network of community volunteers who assist the ex-offender (core member) with reintegration and his/her ongoing risk responsibilities. This thesis critically explores the application of this model to a small group of young/adolescent men with learning disabilities who were assessed as posing a risk of exhibiting sexually harmful behaviour.

Focus groups, interviews and case record data were gathered between January, 2013 and December 2015 to establish four qualitative case studies. Data was explored by considering how the model was adapted for young people with learning disabilities, the tensions between the dual aims of support and accountability and the viability of managing the risk of a group of vulnerable individuals. These questions were examined using theories of offender risk management, restorative justice, rehabilitation, social networks and community treatment programmes.

The study explores the experiences of participants of the CoSA. Whilst social support was shown to be a strong and adaptive tool, accountability and risk management proved confusing and confrontational. The CoSAs in this study remained associated with high risk sex offenders and were troubled with problems of labelling and stigma. These findings question whether the existing model can and should be used with such vulnerable individuals. The thesis concludes by arguing that any programme for young people with learning disabilities who exhibit sexually harmful behaviour should be socially driven and welfare orientated and not a managerial, criminal justice solution determined by risk.

Keywords: CoSA, Sex Offending, Learning Disability, Young People, Risk Management, Restorative Justice, Rehabilitation, Social Networks, Accountability.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
B. > Theses
Item ID: 23518
Depositing User: Vimal Shah
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2018 14:48
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2018 16:44
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/23518

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