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Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Wolvercote's unique approach
Protest at proposed site in Chertsey, Surrey
The clinic's location has provoked protests
The prevailing belief that sex offenders cannot be managed effectively has led to a zero-tolerance attitude within many parts of society.

But a Surrey clinic that will be closed at the end of the month may have an answer to the kneejerk mentality about this complicated issue:

It is estimated more than 80% of the paedophiles treated at the Wolvercote Clinic in Epsom do not reoffend, giving it a reputation as one of Europe's leading and pioneering facilities.

What sets it apart is the fact it is residential and therefore the treatment is more intense and enveloping.
Wolvercote Clinic
280 treated
25 beds
Average stay 11.5 months
13 have returned to court/prison
Five psychologist staff

Donald Findlater, manager of Wolvercote, told BBC News Online: "The content of the programmes is not enormously dissimilar from most other programmes in the community or in prisons.

"But it's all done within the context of a residential, therapeutic environment with lots of other sex offenders and lots of staff who are challenging people and encouraging people and supporting them.

"And the staff take the offenders to task for the harm they've done and also look ahead at the future, so the context is critical."

Those attending the clinic, currently 12, are usually men who have abused within a family, professional or social relationship, such as an uncle or teacher.

They may have completed a prison sentence or be on probation.

'No cure'

They are the most "entrenched" offenders, in that they initially don't see anything wrong with their behaviour and identify themselves more with children, Dr Findlater added.

He said research showed these offenders could not receive successful treatment anywhere else in the UK.

The clinic does not accept anyone with mental illness, a history of violence or drug addiction.

The treatment is mostly conducted in groups and concentrates on facing up to the impact of the offences on victims.
Wolvercote Clinic
The Wolvercote Unit is residential

It examines individually the reasons for the abuse and the thinking behind it.

The treatment has been compared to that used on other kinds of addicts, in that it looks at repetitive behaviour and the circumstances that increase risk.

A strategy is created to avoid risky situations or to manage these situations if they cannot be avoided.

This kind of method does not provide a 'cure' but aims to reduce reoffending and improve adult relationships.

If Wolvercote is the most effective unit, then clearly the decision to close it means children are inevitably being put at greater risk

Dr Donald Findlater

The residents are only off the premises when on rare and supervised trips.

Only four out of the 280 men treated in the clinic's six years have escaped and they were returned soon after. No local adult or child has suffered an assault.

The closure of Wolvercote would increase the risk to children, Dr Findlater said.

And it would also be detrimental to agencies such as the police and probation services, with whom the clinic worked.

The Wolvercote was established in Epsom on a temporary basis in 1995 by the child protection charity, The Lucy Faithfull Foundation.

Home Office figures show the Wolverton to be twice or two times as effective than community projects in easing psychological problems of offenders.

See also:

12 Feb 02 | England
12 Dec 01 | England
30 Mar 01 | UK
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