ISLANDERS battling with hidden sexual urges towards children could be prevented from going on to abuse if they were made aware that support is available, a convicted child sex offender has said.
In an interview with the JEP, a paedophile, who recently served time in La Moye prison for downloading indecent images of children, said that pre-emptive support would be ‘absolutely beneficial’.
The comment comes as Jersey’s probation service issued a plea to Islanders disturbed by ‘hidden sexual attractions to minors’ to come forward and seek help from them now before they break the law.
Since 2006, probation officers have received specialist support in dealing with criminal sex offenders and those who are worried by their sexual thoughts but have not yet committed a crime.
But team leader David Trott admitted that the service may not have done enough to let Islanders know that pre-emptive support is available.
‘Perhaps we have not made it clear enough that we are able to offer this service,’ he said.
‘We are in the game of public protection and we want to make sure we protect victims and vulnerable people. If someone has sexual urges towards children and they need help, we are here.’
Figures released to the JEP earlier this year showed that six Islanders have contacted a helpline in the UK in a desperate bid to rid themselves of their paedophilic thoughts.
And Donald Findlater, an expert on child sex offenders who works with the UK’s Lucy Faithful Foundation, which runs the helpline, has said there is research to suggest as many as two per cent of the adult male population could be paedophiles but most never act on their urges.
The paedophile who gave the interview insisted that he was never a threat to children, but acknowledged that his actions were wrong and illegal.
Asked if he was attracted to children, he said: ‘It is very debatable. What is sexuality? I could never say 100 per cent yes I am or no I am not.
‘I realise that actions I pursued were against the law.
‘If they [others with paedophilic thoughts] knew there was a body set up that they could approach in total confidence and they could get help before their thoughts turn into a major problem, then that is all for the good.
‘I can understand society’s concerns, but if people on the whole would listen to people who have, shall we say, problems, it is easier to cast the first stone than in it is to sit down and understand.’
What support is available in Jersey for Islanders who believe they have a problem but have not yet committed a crime?
The States police direct anyone who believes they may have a problem to the UK-based Lucy Faithful Foundation, which runs the StopItNow hotline which several Islanders have contacted.
And the Health Department say they have no provisions in place to deal with Islanders who have sexual thoughts about children.
But now the Probation Service say they can help and are are urging people with any hidden problems, including paedophilic tendencies, to contact them immediately
PRE-EMPTIVE support for Islanders who have sexual urges towards children may not be well publicised enough, according to one of the head probation workers in the Island.
David Trott, team leader at the Jersey Probation Service, said that since 2006 they have offered specialist support to Islanders who have sexual urges towards children whether they have committed a crime or not.
However, it is not believed that anyone has used the service to address paedophilic tenancies before committing a crime.
James Lynch, one of 11 probation officers in the Island, agreed and said that the Probation Service have a duty of care to all Islanders.
He added that the rise of the internet had provided a portal to people who have sexual urges to act upon them.
‘The message we want to give out is that there is an open door policy. If someone walks through the door and says they are having sexual urges toward children, they are going to hurt their partner or they have problem with drug abuse then we will help.’
Mr Trott added: ‘We cannot offer absolute confidentiality. If we received information about previous crimes that were unknown we would have to pass that onto the police.
‘If someone came in and said “can I see a probation officer – I am really concerned about what is going on in my head sexually” we would sit down and listen.
‘We would go through a similar process of assessment that we would for people who have come out of prison.’
The sex offender:
CHRIS is a sex offender.
He has served time in La Moye Prison for downloading indecent images of children – although the exact details of his offence have not been revealed.
‘My case was not just a case of this [sexual urges against children]. There were issues in my head for years,’ he admitted.
They were issues that eventually tore his life apart. Since his conviction Chris, who is a father, has lost everything – his family and his friends have all turned their back on him.
He is no doubt that if he had been aware of a pre-emptive service where he could go and speak about his demons in confidence it may have changed his life.
‘I realise actions that I pursued were against the law. But if there was a body set up that I knew I could go to that is totally away from anyone that could cause me repercussions then that would be absolutely beneficial.
‘Talking about their problems is a no-no for people [who have sexual urges toward children]. It’s a very private for them but if they knew there was a body set up that they could approach in total confidence and they could get help before their thoughts turn into a major problem then that is all for the good.’
Asked if he was attracted to children, Chris said: ‘It is a very debatable. What is sexuality? I could never say 100 per cent yes I am or no I am not.’
‘PREVENTION is always better than cure and anything we can do to stop the potential harm to children is a good thing.’
Those are the words of Dr David Briggs, a specialist forensic psychologist who offers training and support to probation staff across Britain, including Jersey.
Dr Briggs, who is based in the UK, has been mentoring probation officers in the Island since 2006 on the techniques to rehabilitate both convicted child sex offenders and those who may not have committed a crime but contact the service in a desperate plea for help because they are having sexual thoughts about children.
And he has a message for Islanders who believe they may have a problem.
‘If anyone who believes they have a problem should read this I would urge them to come forward, make contact and seek help,’ he said.
‘It is not something we can be relaxed about, ignore or shy away from. The reality is that there are people in our society who have sexual thoughts towards children who occasionally have urges to act on those thoughts and it is our moral obligation to help them.
‘Clearly there is a wide abhorrence of any child being molested or abused but I think there is an element of society that appreciates the fact that this is not necessarily just a select few people who have these urges.’
Dr Briggs, who has published a book called Managing Men Who Sexually Abuse, said he had no reason to discredit previously reported figures that suggest as many 1,000 men in the Island could be hiding sexual attractions to children.
‘I think as a society we are encouraging more open discussion of paedophilia and we are beginning to see evidence that we can make an impact,’ he added.
Dr Briggs, who praised Jersey’s Probation Service as one of the most dedicated he has ever seen, said research is starting to come to light to show that there may be a biological predisposition to paedophilia.
He said that, combined with issues of neglect, maltreatment or sexual trauma in a person’s childhood were factors behind why some people develop and act on sexual urges toward children.
‘We can’t ignore the victim not least because we want to deal with their immediate trauma but also because we don’t want them to go on and become abusers,’ he added.