Date : 07 February 2018
The government is putting children at risk of sexual abuse
by failing to fund preventative therapy, says sexual abuse charity
StopSO UK, the Specialist Treatment Organisation for the Prevention of Sexual Offending, today planted a host of 1,183 toy windmills on the bank of the Thames in a bid to highlight the extent to which a lack of funding is resulting in the sexual abuse of children.
Based on Government figures 1,183 children fall victim to sexual abuse every day in the UK. StopSO maintains that with adequate funding, many of these children could be saved, along with millions of pounds of tax payers money.
StopSO is a charity providing therapy in the community for those who feel at risk of committing a sexual offence, or who have already committed one.
Juliet Grayson, UKCP Registered Psychosexual Therapist and Chair of StopSO said: “StopSO would like to ensure that no-one is ever refused help. We believe that therapy should be provided free-of-charge to all perpetrators asking for help who cannot afford to pay for themselves, as a cost-effective way of reducing sexual offending in the UK. But we are currently having to turn away 20% of those who approach us due to lack of funds.”
According to the NSPCC, 24.1% of people between the ages 18 and 24 had experienced sexual abuse in childhood (1). There were over 54,000 police recorded sexual offences against children in 2015/16 across the UK (2).
Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Child Protection, said on the BBC television programme When Kids Abuse Kids (Panorama, 2017): “We know that only 1 in 8 reports [from children] are actually coming through to the Police, so one victim in every eight is having the confidence and the courage to come forward.”
Grayson explained: “If 54,000 sexual offences represents 1 in 8, then the real total of sexual offences against children in the UK in 2015/6 was approximately 432,000. That’s 1,183 every single day.
“The government is failing these children by failing to fund therapy which prevents these offences occurring. And furthermore, it is failing the British tax-payer.
“This year StopSO expects to be approached by 1,936 clients struggling with sexually inappropriate behaviour. 387 of these people will not be able to afford to pay for their therapy, and we don’t have the funding to provide the help they need.
“It costs £65,000 to put one person in prison, but less than £2,000 for preventative counselling. It would cost the government nearly £126 million of tax payers money to imprison those 1,936, when it could subsidise this shortfall for a mere £735,000” (3)
StopSO often prevents the first sexual offence. If StopSO’s work was publicly-funded, it would only need one client out of every 170 to become non-offending and be diverted from the criminal justice system to make StopSO fully cost-effective.
Until StopSO was founded in 2012, there was no UK wide service that offered face-to-face counselling to someone who knew that they were attracted to children, to prevent them becoming a child molester or internet offender.
But so far StopSO has not received any government funding. As a comparison, Project Dunkelfeld in Germany receives ministry funding (4) of €5 million per annum to support therapy, research and training for people who have a sexual attraction to children.
Grayson added: “If the government won’t respond to the plight of victims, it should at least consider the financial reality. Failing to support organisations like StopSO is a false economy.
“The cost of prevention is dwarfed by the cost of sexual abuse. The consequences are often life-long for the victims and devastating for their families. The financial costs to society of child sexual abuse are estimated by the NSPCC at £3.2 billion per annum (5).
“The Home Office spent £20 million pursuing online child groomers last year (6). Since there are already 86,000 people in prison according to the Howard League, there is simply not enough room to lock up all those who have committed sexual offences. We need another solution.
“That solution is government-funded therapy before the crime, not after. Then we’ll be planting less, not more windmills next year.”
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
- Radford, L. (2011). Child abuse and neglect in the UK today. Retrieved from London: NSPCC website: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/globalassets/documents/research-reports/child-abuse-neglect-uk-today-research-report.pdf
- Bentley, H. et al (2017) How safe are our children? The most comprehensive overview of child protection in the UK 2017. London: NSPCC
- It costs £65,000 to put one person in prison, if one includes police time and court costs (Focus Prisoner Education. The Cost of Prisons. Retrieved September 11, 2017, from http://www.fpe.org.uk/the-cost-of-prisons). StopSO anticipates a 170% increase in the number of clients making contact in the next twelve months. This means that in 2018 StopSO will be asked for help by 1,936 clients, the majority of whom will fund themselves. However, 387 (20%) of these people, who are struggling with sexually inappropriate behaviour, will not be able to afford to pay for their therapy. The costs of offering therapy to these perpetrators can be broken down as follows: the staffing and administrative fees are estimated at £200,000. The cost of offering subsidy to the 20% of perpetrator-clients who cannot afford to pay is estimated at £535,000. These two added together total £735,000. This money would provide therapy for 1,936 clients, of which 387 would be subsidised. Dividing £735,000 by 1936 clients gives us the figure of £380, which is the cost per person of providing the StopSO service (based on the fact that 80% of clients will be paying for their own therapy in full). Since it costs £65,000 to put one person into prison, if we divide £65,000 by £380 this gives us the number of people that StopSO needs to keep out of prison to be cost effective, which is less than 12 people. In other words if 12 people out of the 1936 clients coming to StopSO next year do not offend and stay out of the criminal justice system, then StopSO has covered it’s cost. This equates to 1 person out of every 171. We expect that StopSO therapy will be effective for many many more than that.
- Scholz, K. (2016, October 25). Model project for paedophiles saved. Deutsche Welle. Retrieved from http://p.dw.com/p/2RhOs
- Saied-Tessier, A. (2014). Estimating the costs of child sexual abuse UK p.19. Retrieved from NSPCC website: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/globalassets/documents/research-reports/estimating-costs-child-sexual-abuse-uk.pdf
StopSO was formed in 2012 with the aim of reducing sexual offending in the UK and ensuring that those at risk of sexual offending or re-offending have access to fully trained professional treatment to stop sexually harmful behaviours, thus safeguarding all members of society from the devastating consequences it causes.
Currently, StopSO works with people who have committed all kinds of sexual offences, as well as those who have not yet committed an offence. StopSO connects each client with a counsellor or psychotherapist who is open to hearing about their issues. Training is given to the therapists to help them think about their reactions to the topics the client might discuss, understand the likely pathways to offending, respond in a proportionate manner to ethical dilemmas, be aware of recent research, identify risk factors and learn about the most effective treatment strategies for this client group.
Two-thirds of the people contacting StopSO are doing so because of issues related to the potential and actual sexual harm of children, including troubling thoughts, accessing online child abuse images, or a contact offence.
38% of people asking StopSO for help have not come to the attention of the police or social services, so in many cases StopSO is preventing the first crime.
Most clients coming to StopSO pay for their own therapy, making direct payments to their therapist. StopSO therapists pay an annual membership fee, and a referral fee for each client they treat, in order to keep the organisation financially afloat.
To thrive, and keep up with the growing demand from clients who might commit (or have already committed) a sexual offence, StopSO needs funding. Within 18 months StopSO will need at least four full time members of staff to manage the increasing volume of perpetrator-clients.
If the government funded StopSO’s staffing and administrative fees and provided sufficient funds for subsidised therapy through StopSO, it means that if one person out of every 170 people that asked StopSO for help received effective therapy, did not commit a crime and stayed out of the criminal justice system, StopSO would be cost effective for the tax payer.
But StopSO’s primary focus will remain therapeutic work with people at risk of committing sexual offences, preventing the initial damage from being done, rather than picking up the pieces afterwards.