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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Top paedophile clinic shuts
Abused children
More children will be put at risk, say Wolvercote staff
A pioneering paedophile clinic in Surrey has closed and the land been sold to a developer.

The residential Wolvercote Clinic in Epsom shut its doors on Tuesday evening, sending its nine patients back to their home towns to continue treatment.

Staff have accused the Department of Health, which sold the land for a reported 34m, of taking money at the expense of children's welfare.

But the government said the safeguards are in place to protect the public while the paedophiles' treatment is finished.

How many child victims of sexual abuse are worth 34m?

Donald Findlater
Wolvercote manager

Efforts to find the clinic a new home have so far failed, partly due to opposition from residents at proposed sites.

The Wolvercote has a reputation Europe-wide for its uniquely intense and effective treatment - non-reoffending rates are estimated at 80%.

Donald Findlater, manager of the clinic since it began in 1995, told BBC News Online: "I'm resigned to the fact there will be no Wolvercote for the next 12 months, two years, maybe three years, and I say that with tremendous sadness. It's a devastating day."

Staff will continue to see the offenders weekly in the community, but 'Mike', one of Mr Findlater's patients, told BBC London he is worried that might not be enough to help him control his paedophile tendencies.

Protests

He said:"It's very sad. I wish I could press a button and change it or take a drug and stop it, but I can't.

"I've acknowledged my problem. I've had a great deal of help from a lot of hard-working experts to understand it and to manage it."

The site will be used to build a supermarket serving an adjoining residential development.

Mr Findlater said: "It's appalling that the Department of Health grabbed the money and consigned more children to be victims of sexual abuse.

"I don't know how many child victims of sexual abuse are worth 34m, because the cost of child abuse in psychological and physical terms is astronomical."

The Probation Service has announced a national review to see where new clinics can be located.
Wolvercote Clinic
280 treated
25 beds
Average stay 11.5 months
13 have returned to court/prison
Five psychologist staff

But Mr Findlater said: "There is currently every evidence that we need a number of Wolvercotes, so it seems perverse they choose to close the one we have while they decide how many we need."

Plans to move the Wolvercote clinic in Chertsey, Surrey, were abandoned following local protests.

The clinic manager called on the government to bring an end to the "secrecy" surrounding the treatment of paedophiles, which he said contributed to ignorance and misconceptions.

And he wants the media to play a key role in presenting correct information.

Mr Findlater and his staff will continue their work from an office, continuing the treatment and developing support services.
Wolvercote clinic entrance
Wolvercote staff were "devastated"

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

They are the most "entrenched" offenders and may have served a prison sentence or be on probation.

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

A Home Office spokesman told BBC News Online the offenders have individual treatment programmes which should be sufficient to ensure the risk to the public is minimised.

He said: "We have in place well established contingency arrangements for the remaining nine patients."


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See also:

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