Circles of Support and Accountability (Circles) are one of the most successful restorative based reintegration schemes for those persons released from prison who have been convicted of sexual offences and are considered by the statutory agencies to continue to pose a high risk of harm to the community in which they now live. Circles are unique in their ability to engage and empower that local community to take responsibility for their own protection and safety by ensuring that such a person, known to the Circle as the core member is safely reintegrated and held accountable for their past offending behaviour. The Circle works in partnership with and is supported by, those agencies responsible for the risk management of the core member.
The research question will use a qualitative, mixed methodology and will focus upon identifying what restorative processes exists within a Circle for those volunteers who have themselves experienced sexual violence. It is hoped that the research will inform both the policy and practice of a wide range of agencies who work to support and manage those persons released from prison and living in the community who continue to be regarded as a potential danger to that community.
It is the intention of this research to replicate the study’s methodology and collect data from the three separate European countries of Wales, England and the Netherlands all of who operate the Circles scheme.