From June 2017:
The main sex offender treatment programme for England and Wales has been scrapped after a report found it led to more reoffending.
Researchers found prisoners completing the programme were slightly more likely to offend than a control group.
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) replaced the scheme in March after research confirmed evidence of its weaknesses.
The main programme to psychologically treat the highest-risk offenders has also been replaced, the ministry said.
The MOJ confirmed the change in treating sex offenders following publication on Friday of its own study which suggested the Core Sex Offender Treatment Programme (SOTP) could be making the situation worse.
The scheme, designed to challenge the behaviour of male sex offenders with psychological techniques to change their thinking, was first approved in 1992.
Researchers followed what happened to 2,562 prisoners who took part in the 180 hours of group sessions before their later release from prison.
They then compared their behaviour over the following years with more than 13,000 comparable offenders.
“More treated sex offenders committed at least one sexual re-offence [excluding breach of conditions of release] during the follow-up period when compared with the matched comparison offenders (10% compared with 8%),” said the study.
“More treated sex offenders committed at least one child image re-offence when compared with the matched comparison offenders (4.4% compared with 2.9 %).
“The results suggest that while Core SOTP in prisons is generally associated with little or no changes in sexual and non-sexual reoffending … the small changes in the sexual reoffending rate suggest that either Core SOTP does not reduce sexual reoffending as it intends to do, or that the true impact of the programme was not detected.
“Group treatment may ‘normalise’ individuals’ behaviour. When stories are shared, their behaviour may not be seen as wrong or different; or at worst, contacts and sources associated with sexual offending may be shared.”