Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Trouble With SOTP - HMPPS Responds

Following on from Sunday's blog post, here we have a textbook response, so typical of Senior Management - a lot of words, but saying absolutely fuck all:-  

26 June 2017

To Governing Governors/Directors of Contracted Prisons
Heads of LDUs


Dear All,

Many of you will have seen or heard of the media reports about the Sex Offender Treatment Programme. I wanted to write to you to assure you that we are aware of the articles and are working with colleagues to provide as clear a picture as we can both to you and those in our care or under our supervision.

As you know better than most, we are absolutely committed as an organisation to reducing offending and addressing the needs of men with sexual convictions. We have been at the forefront of this area of work internationally for some 20 years. Our programmes have evolved with the developing evidence base and we have prided ourselves on our evidence based approach. All of our work has been overseen by a panel of international experts who have confirmed that our approach is in line with the latest thinking about what works with this client group. Our work has always been open to close scrutiny, and we have welcomed this even when some have been critical of our approach. That is inevitable given what we do - it is right and healthy to have debate about the best way to change complex and often entrenched behaviours. When Michael attended the Professional Practice Forum on 5 May and spoke to many of you, I know that he was struck by the commitment and enthusiasm of staff working in this area and the range of research evidence presented which we should always use to develop further our policy and practice.

As you know, we have made significant changes to our programme offer for sex offenders in prison over the past year. In developing Horizon and Kaizen we have considered all the most up to date research. Horizon and Kaizen are built on the firmest possible foundations, and we have opened them up to external scrutiny for extra assurance on this. We will also be setting up special arrangements for monitoring and are putting a rigorous evaluation plan in place so that we can review efficacy regularly.

I recognise that media reporting such as this brings with it challenges, particularly for staff working on programmes, or men attending programmes in custody or in the community. We will always seek to improve our practice and further changes will continue to be made as we carry on learning from the latest research findings, and we will continue to work together to ensure that our approach remains world leading.

Please keep up the good work. I do recognise the hard work and commitment that you have put into working with this client group.

Digby Griffith 
Executive Director, Rehabilitation and Assurance   


This from InsideTime:-

Death of the SOTP?

For your information, there was a document produced by the MoJ, titled ‘206’, which was based on the two-year reconviction rates for those who participated in the SOTP (Sex Offenders Treatment Programme) and non-participants. This document is hard to find, but it shows that High Risk sex-offenders who participated in the programme actually increased their risk of reoffending by 2%.

After numerous letters to the Head of the MoJ’s Justice Statistics Analytical Services, many MP’s, NOMS, MoJ and Programmes – the SOTP has finally been withdrawn nationwide. This has resulted in all offenders IEP status reverting back to Standard from Basic (due to Maintaining Innocence and non-participation in the SOTP). This has not happened a moment too soon and should have happened years ago.

Eventually there will be new programmes brought in; Horizon, for medium risk, and Kaizen for high/very high risk offenders. There seem to be no details on timeframes for these programmes, and very little detail about them (whether they are offence-related, whether they are even accredited). If you could find out more, that would be great.


  1. I've always moaned about not being put on a course while inside, meaning I had to do it on release, but it seems that might not have been a bad thing.
    I did the Thames Valley programme after release with a very supportive group of men. I can't speak for the others (and I don't know if they have reoffended or not), but I found it useful as it really helped me understand my own motivations and therefore avoid the mistakes of my past. Maybe it is partly the environment in prison, or poorly trained staff delivering it, or a combination that has caused the problems - it seemed better in a 'community' setting.

  2. Ooops... Now on the right blogtopic thingy. Jm, feel free to delete the other post if it helps tidy things up.

    *From MoJ website (today, just now) on what is offered (edited to fit character limit):

    "Sex Offender Treatment Programmes (SOTP) - A range of programmes are available for sexual offenders, providing a menu which are offered according to the level of risk and need of the offender.

    C-SOGP (Community Sex Offenders Group Programme) - helps offenders develop understanding of how and why they have committed sexual offences. The programme also increases awareness of victim harm. The main focus is to help the offender develop meaningful life goals and practice new thinking and behavioural skills that will lead him away from offending.

    NSOGP (Northumbria Sex Offenders Group Programme) - ...

    NSOGP (Northumbria Sex Offenders Group Programme) - ...

    TVSOGP (Thames Valley Sex Offenders Group Programme) - ...

    I-SOTP (Internet Sex Offender Treatment Programme) - ...

    ASOTP-CV (Adapted Sex Offender Treatment Programme - Community Version) - Adapted Community sex offender programme similar to SOTP, but adapted for those who have social or learning difficulties....

    SOTP Core (Sex Offenders Treatment Programme) - ...

    SOTP BNM (Sex Offenders Treatment Programme Becoming New Me) - Covers similar areas to Core SOTP, but adapted for those who have social or learning difficulties. It is designed to increase sexual knowledge, modify offence-justifying thinking, develop ability to recognise feelings in themselves and others, to gain an understanding of victim harm, and develop relapse prevention skills.

    SOTP BLB (Sex Offenders Treatment Programme Better Lives Booster) - Designed to boost sexual offenders' learning from other SOTPs and provide additional opportunities to practice personally relevant skills. It can be run in two forms - a low intensity (one session a week) helps to maintain change in long term prisoners and the high intensity, pre-release programme is particularly focused on preparation for transition into the community.

    SOTP ABLB (Sex Offenders Treatment Programme Adapted Better Lives Booster) - Aimed at those who have completed the Adapted SOTP. Shares the same aims as the Core version but the treatment delivery methods are different to accommodate different learning styles and abilities. A low intensity version is for long term prisoners and a high intensity version is for those who are in the last year of their sentence, preparing them for release.

    SOTP Extended (Sex Offenders Treatment Programme Extended) - Extended is targeted at high and very high risk men who have successfully met the treatment targets of the Core programme. The programme covers 4 areas; recognising and modifying patterns of dysfunctional thinking, emotional regulation, intimacy skills and relapse prevention.

    SOTP HSF (Sex Offenders Treatment Programme Healthy Sexual Functioning) - Aims to promote healthy sexual functioning, mainly in high-risk sexual offenders, who acknowledge current or very recent offence-related sexual interests. Modules include developing a more healthy sexuality, patterns in sexual arousal, behavioural strategies for promoting healthy sexual interest and relapse prevention.

    SOTP Rolling (Sex Offenders Treatment Programme Rolling) - Rolling provides a less intensive level of treatment with more emphasis on relationships skills and attachment styles deficits. The group rolls continuously with members joining and leaving as it rolls along so members will therefore be at different stages of treatment, depending on when they joined the group."

  3. Off topic I know but from where I am sat things are unravelling very quickly at worming links. The departure of Phil Andrew is a metaphor as in captain deserting the sinking ship. He will not be held to account when the split carcass of probation finally sinks in the South West and Wales. Staff continue to leave in droves across the whole of Wales, through Bristol and down to Lands End where presumably they can look out to sea and watch the HMS TR sinking against the sunset. How can we respect the CRC upper management when they know fine well it is failing, staff are suffering and yet they continue to look in the other direction? They need to show some backbone and speak out now and get us behind them or they will be forced to quit when it goes belly up! All the waste, all the asset stripping, when will it stop?.It is time to support NAPO whether you are NPS or CRC because we need to formulate plan B and very urgently. Seriously think about re-joining or getting more involved and active. I know all the arguments for and against but NAPO is the only Union that understands Probation.AGM coming up in October Nottingham and likely to be some crucial decision making so get there and join in. Direct the anger so it makes a difference.

    1. Sodexo have moved (promoted?) Nick Leader too.
      He was director of HMP Peterborough for Sodexo for just over five years and was most recently CEO South of Sodexo’s probation business, responsible for three community rehabilitation companies.

  4. I am sure I read some stats a while ago, that SOTP was bad for low risk offenders, the reasoning given was that mixing them with other sex offenders made deviant behaviour seem more acceptable. Possibly the current stats are skewed by people who were innocent not attending SOTP courses. We have to accept that finding someone guilty on the balance of probability a majority verdict based entirely on probably confabulated memory is going to make mistakes. If we think the unthinkable, that a good proportion of the deniers, are innocent and therefore as likely to offend as the general population and then rework the stats, then possibly SOTP programmes will look better.

    I am a little concerned that “Circles of Support and Accountability”, appears to be being lead by many of the same experts as SOTP courses. In this country 'Circles' has moved a long way from the original Mennonite concept, which was based on the community helping the key member into more acceptable thoughts and behaviour.

  5. Another damning report for the MoJ.


  6. Mental health first aid training for Prison Officers might be a tiny first step.

  7. Speaking as a convicted Internet offender who is coming to the end of his sotp, I have only praise for the practitioners and the programme. I know that it is finishing and being replaced by treatments with ‘Japanese’ titles and no separation between contact and non-contact offenders, but I believe the success or otherwise of any programme is down to the delivery and quality of care of the leaders, as well as the commitment of the participants. Being in a group of other offenders has, in no way, encouraged me to re-offend. In fact entirely the opposite. This has been presented by my probation officer and the leaders as a ‘life chance’ which is down to us to take or not. But we have also been encouraged to believe we are still ‘worth it’, despite what we have done. This is an approach which I think is remarkable, given that it is government driven and was the main content of my community order.