Circles of Support & Accountability


Circles build safer communities through local volunteers working with sex offenders to minimise alienation, support, reintegration and so prevent sexual re-offending

The project was initiated in 2009 and started working with the first core member that year and in May 2012 Cumbria Probation Trust commissioned CROPT to provide Circles in Cumbria which has offered the opportunity to progress the work that has been started and hopefully expand and improve what has proved to be a very successful initiative

In November 2015 the project was awarded a 4 year grant from the Big Lottery fund to establish 13 Circles of Support and Accountability in the county of Lancashire. This has expanded the project substantially and we now have 4 members of staff working over the two counties. At the time of writing we have worked with 42 core members within the circle setting and have mentored another 9, currently engage with 40 volunteers from the community in the support of this work and have established the project as a key component in the public protection network linking with police and probation services in keeping communities safe. If you are interested in volunteering for this project please contact us for more information.”

The Circles project is further supported by Circles UK which is a national charity set up to encourage the development of Circles and to ensure consistent quality standards and safety in the work. Its mission statement is:

“To reduce substantially the risk of future sexual abuse by assisting those who are committed to not reoffending to re-integrate into the community and to lead responsible, productive and accountable lives”

Research & Journal Articles

Please note that due to copyright restrictions, the majority of the links below will take you to an abstract of the article or the publisher’s website, where you may be able to access the full text by registering or purchasing access to the article.

Ministry of Justice Study (2014) Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA): a case file review of two pilots 

Thomas, T., Thompson, D., & Karstedt, K. (2014), Assessing the impact of Circles of Support and Accountability on the reintegration of adults convicted of sexual offences in the community Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, School of Law, University of Leeds

Armstrong, S., Chistyakova, Y. Mackensie, S., and Malloch, M. (2008) Circles of Support and Accountability: Consideration of the feasibility of pilots in Scotland.  The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research.

Bates, A., Saunders, R., & Wilson, C (2007). A follow-up study of sex offenders participating in Thames Valley Circles of Support and Accountability.  British Journal of Community Justice, Volume 5, Issue 1

Cesaroni, C., (2001) Releasing sex offenders into the community through “Circles of Support” – a means of reintegrating the “worst of the worst” .  Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, Volume 34, Issue 2

Drewery, H. (2003) The people behind Circles of Support: Helen Drewery describes the motivations of volunteers in the Circles of Support and Accountability programme.  Criminal Justice Matters, Volume 52, Issue 1

Haslewood-Pócsik. I., Smith. E. and Spencer, J. (2008) IMPACT Circles: balancing risk management with support: a study of an innovative approach in working with sex offenders.  University of Manchester: Unpublished.

Hannem, S. and Petrunik, M.(2007) Circles of Support and Accountability: a community justice initiative for the reintegration of high risk sex offenders.  Contemporary Justice Review Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 153–171

Kirkwood, S. and Richley, T. (2008) Circles of Support and Accountability: the case for their use in Scotland to assist in the community reintegration and risk management of sexual offenders.  SCOLAG Journal, Issue 372, pp.236-239

Nellis, M (2009) Circles of Support and Accountability for sex offenders in England and Wales: their origins and implementation between 1999 -2005.  British Journal of Community Justice, Volume 7, pp23-44

Petrunik, M. (2002) Managing unacceptable risk: sex offenders community response and social policy in the United States and Canada.  International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, Volume 46, pp 483-511

Petrunick, M. and Deutschmann, L. (2007) The exclusion inclusion spectrum in state and community responses to sex offenders in Anglo-American and European jurisdictions.  International Journal Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology,  Volume 52, pp 499 -519

Wilson, C (2006) A problem shared.  Safer Society: The Journal of Crime Reduction and Community Safety, Issue 30, pp 30-32

Wilson, R., Huculak, B and McWhinnie. A. J. (2002) Restorative Justice innovations in CanadaBehavioral Sciences and the Law, Volume 20, pp 363-380

Wilson, R., McWhinnie. A. J., and Wilson, C. (2008) An international partnership in reducing sexual offender recidivism. Prison Service Journal, Issue 178

Wilson, R., Picheca, J., Prinzo, M., & Cortoni, F. (2007) Circles of Support and Accountability: engaging community volunteers in the management of high-risk sexual offenders, The Howard Journal, Volunme 46, pp 1-15

Wilson, R., Picheca, J. & Prinzo, M. (2005) Circles of Support and Accountability: an evaluation of the pilot project in South-Central Ontario, Correctional Services of Canada.  The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 1-15.

Wilson, R., Picheca, J. and Michelle Prinzo (2007) Evaluating the effectiveness of professionally-facilitated volunteerism in the community-based management of high-risk sexual offenders: part one – effects on participants and stakeholders. The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 289-302,

Wilson, R., Picheca, J. and Michelle Prinzo (2007) Evaluating the effectiveness of professionally-facilitated volunteerism in the community-based management of high-risk sexual offenders: part two – a comparison of recidivism rates.  The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 46, Issue 4 pp 327-337.

Wilson, R. and Prinzo, M. (2002) Circles of Support: a restorative justice initiative.  Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 59-77

Staying Safe Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) August 2016 http://www.cumbriaobservatory.org.uk/elibrary/Content/Internet/536/671/4674/6164/6995/4264715298.pdf