‘Ground-breaking’ research to help Hartlepool police chiefs prevent child sex offences

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger says protecting the vulnerable is a key priority.
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger says protecting the vulnerable is a key priority.

Police chiefs in Hartlepool are set to be better informed about how to prevent child sex offences thanks to ‘ground-breaking’ research.

A study funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland and the Big Lottery may now be used to shape future strategies to reduce offending and improve responses to victims.

Already this ground breaking research has uncovered themes within offending that will prove extremely useful in tackling this issue in Cleveland

Barry Coppinger

The research examined the backgrounds, motivations and approaches of offenders, and looked at possible points of intervention.

Over 200 delegates from across the country have attended a conference to discuss the findings, which include the need to introduce warnings on online partals to deter potential offenders, and offer specialist support for those at risk of offending.

Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, said: “Protecting the vulnerable is a central pillar of my police and crime plan and the force will leave no stone unturned in its determination to bring to justice anyone guilty of child sexual exploitation.

“At the same time it is important that we better understand why people offend in this way and what can be done to protect potential victims, prevent re-offending and deter others from going down this path.

“Already this ground breaking research has uncovered themes within offending that will prove extremely useful in tackling this issue in Cleveland.

“By sharing this information and hopefully widening this area of research we can help tackle this problem nationally.”

The research was completed by Barefoot Research, and was called Motivations of Child Sexual Exploitation Offenders: Disrupt, Treat, Manage?

Dr Christopher Hartworth and his team carried out a series of interviews with males who have been convicted of child sexual exploitation.

National interest in the findings of the study led to the conference being organised with representatives of police, probation and health services, local authorities, prisons, childrens services and the voluntary sector attending.

Barefoot Research director Dr Christopher Hartworth conducted the study, and hopes it can be extended to othe regions.

He said: “This research is ground-breaking, because when it began we were the only place in the UK trying to gather information from perpetrators to work out better ways to prevent and stop exploitation of children and young people.”

Nicky Harkin, chief executive of Arch North East, which supports those affected by rape or sexual abuse, said: “I’m so pleased the PCC and the Big Lottery have funded this research.

“It will allow our service offer to be better informed and provide a reassurance to victims that what happened to them is absolutely not their fault.”