Skip to main content

Research Repository

See what's under the surface

From a lack of engagement and mistrust to partnership? Public attitudes to the disclosure of sex offender information

McCartan, Kieran

Authors



Abstract

This paper discusses public attitudes to the current limited disclosure of sex offender scheme in
the UK. The study focuses on two ‘countries’ of
the UK (ie, Northern Ireland and Wales) where,
up until now, no direct research has been done
with the public on their attitudes to the sex
offender disclosure scheme. This study is based
upon six socially representative local focus groups
(members of the public; three in each locale) with
a total of 35 members of the public between
them. The focus groups are semi-structured in
nature and were interpreted through qualitative
(thematic) content analysis. Results indicate that
the public believed that, in principle, they had a
right to have access to information regarding sex
offenders living in their communities, but when
the practicalities of this were discussed, the participants
became divided on the validity of disclosure.
In respect to the limited disclosure
scheme, the participants did not feel that it went
far enough, it was too restrictive, they were
unhappy with the structure of it (especially the
background checks and the confidentiality agreement)
and that they did not trust the government
(ie, the police) to run it appropriately. Ultimately,
the participants thought that communities needed
to be more involved in the management of sex
offenders within them, but they were conflicted as
to whether communities could handle this role.
The results of this study reflects and builds upon
the English and Scottish pilots, suggesting that
more work needs to be done on the administration
of the disclosure process.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 1, 2013
Journal International Journal of Police Science and Management,
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 3
Pages 219-236
Institution Citation McCartan, K. (2013). From a lack of engagement and mistrust to partnership? Public attitudes to the disclosure of sex offender information
Keywords sex offenders, disclosure, public attitudes