Professional Services

What are Circles of Support and Accountability?

They are groups made up of volunteers from the community who are recruited, vetted, trained and professionally supervised to work with high risk sexual offenders in the community. The volunteers share the community’s concern about safety and wish to participate in a constructive approach to tackling sexual abuse. They believe that the way to achieve this is through helping offenders find a place in the community by having access to people who will both support them and hold them accountable for their actions.

Why consider referring to Circles South East?

Circles South East consist of specialist staff experienced in the assessment and management of sexual offenders. They are able to undertake suitability assessments and provide an appropriate service for the offenders you are working with.

Circles South East and the services we offer helps:

  • The reduction of emotional loneliness and isolation, known risk factors in predetermining sexual offending.
  • Dramatically reduces the risk of sexual recidivism
  • Provides additional monitoring and maintenance to the resources provided by the statutory agencies
  • Essential intelligence to MAPPA
  • A safe and structured support network for offenders that will continue after the end of statutory supervision
  • Assistance with social and community networks
  • Assistance with housing and employment difficulties
  • Those who dispute their conviction(s) to avoid further allegations of sexually harmful behaviour being made against them in the future.

The Three key Principles

The model below underpins the work of Circles of Support and Accountability

Key Principles

How does a Circle work?

A Circle normally comprises of four to five Circle volunteers with the offender (Core Member). The Circle will meet every week until the Circle Coordinator moves the group to fortnightly contact. At this point a Circle review will take place and individual or paired contact between volunteers and the offender can be introduced if assessed as appropriate. There will be a gradual reduction in formal meetings as the Circle moves from Phase 1 to Phase 2 to avoid dependency from the offender on the Circle. The Circle Coordinator receives regular Circle minutes from the Circle and facilitates regular reviews with the group. A Circle can last for 12 – 18 months before it moves to Phase 2. Relevant professionals are invited to attend quarterly Circle review meetings and good communication between the Circle and professionals is seen as essential to effectiveness.


The Circle is there to:

  • Understand and help maintain the offenders treatment objectives
  • Model appropriate relationships
  • Assist with conflict resolution
  • Provide both support and accountability
  • Provide practical assistance
  • Monitor and help maintain offender in the community
  • Work in partnership with the statutory agencies.

Who is eligible for a Circle?

  • Offenders participation in a Circle must be voluntary.
  • Offenders who are assessed as high risk. High risk is defined by an aggregated risk assessment and not by a specific assessment tool. This assessment will include professional judgement and clinical assessment.
  • Offenders with high emotional and social needs (including learning and other disabilities)
  • Offenders posing risk of serious harm
  • Male and female over 18 years of age
  • Those who have acknowledged the harm caused by their behaviour, or where they dispute their conviction, are ready to discuss the circumstances that led to their conviction.
  • Those who are committed to not re-offend
  • Those with an insight to their own behaviour and are willing to engage with the Circle to assist their successful reintegration into the community
  • It is helpful if offenders have or are due to complete an accredited treatment programme. However, we understand that this may not always been the case due to specific issues.


Circles South East allocate experienced volunteers to work on a one-to-one basis with offenders. This service is suitable for men and women who do not require the intense support and monitoring of a Circle but require some specific assistance in the community. A Mentor would be suitable for offenders requiring support with:

Circles South East allocate experienced volunteers to work on a one-to-one basis with offenders. This service is suitable for men and women who do not require the intense support and monitoring of a Circle but require some specific assistance in the community. A Mentor would be suitable for offenders requiring support with:

  • Employment/Disclosure
  • Developing appropriate relationships
  • Housing Difficulties
  • Maintenance and Monitoring in the Community
  • Developing Social and Community networks.

All cases are individually assessed.

What does a Circle or Mentoring require of me?

Circles South East will need the involvement of professionals in a Circle or Mentoring:

  • To provide the Core Member with a consistent stance between Circles South East and Statutory professionals
  • To ensure that Circles/Mentoring is working in accordance to the Offender Managers risk management strategy and to ensure that Circles is working to the risk management strategy agreed by the local MAPPA
  • To ensure that volunteers are provided with correct and relevant information on the Core Member
  • To emphasise partnership arrangements
  • To contribute to the training and development of volunteers.

The lead professional involved with the core member will:

  • Provide requested information by the Coordinator
  • Agree Needs and Resources Profile written by Circle/Mentoring Coordinators detailing all relevant information for Circle volunteers
  • Attend a meeting with the Circle Volunteers either prior to the commencement of the Circle/Mentoring or within the first 6 weeks of a Circle
  • Attend the initial meeting with the Core Member and the Circle
  • Attend Circle reviews when invited by the Circle/Mentoring Coordinator.

Circles and Mentoring Models

  • Introduction of Circle or Mentoring service whilst offender in Prison
  • Introduction of service on arrival or when leaving Approved Premises
  • Introduction of service at commencement of Sex Offender Community Group Work Programme
  • Introduction of service at end of Treatment Programme
  • Introduction of service at end of Statutory Supervision
  • Agreement of inclusion of Circles in risk management strategy though local MAPPA.

Contact Details

Circles South East
Baptist House
129 Broadway
OX11 8XD

For further information and discussion please call:

T: 01235 816050

or contact us at


Circles (South East) is an organisation dedicated to Equal Opportunities.