– Beyond community protection: An examination of community protection and public health approaches to sex offenders.

Part 1: Regulating the ‘sex offender’.

From community protection to a public health approach: what does this signify historically, theoretically and practically?

“Imagine a childhood disease that affects one in five girls and one in seven boys before they reach 18: a disease that can cause dramatic mood swings, erratic behavior, and even severe conduct disorders among those exposed; a disease that breeds distrust of adults and undermines the possibility of experiencing normal sexual relationships; a disease that can have profound implications for an individual’s future health by increasing the risk of problems such as substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and suicidal behavior; a disease that replicates itself by causing some of its victims to expose future generations to its debilitating effects.
Imagine what we, as a society, would do if such a disease existed. We would spare no expense. We would invest heavily in basic and applied research. We would devise management systems to identify those affected and provide services to treat them. We would develop and broadly implement prevention campaigns to protect our children wouldn’t we?
Such a disease does exist – it’s called child sexual abuse!” (Mercy, 1999:317, as quoted in [?]).

“The criminal law sets the boundaries for what is culpable and deserving of punishment including sexual activity . . . In producing a set of recommendations which demonstrate a balance between protection, deterrence, the rights of the individual and society’s expectation of acceptable behaviour, the review was set a difficult and challenging task to achieve”. (Home Office, 2001:1,6 as quoted in Matravers, 2003:1).

In England and Wales the criminal justice system’s attempts to combat sexual offending have resulted in what has been described as a ‘criminal apartheid’” (Soothill et al, 1998 as...