Published: 27 July 2023 at 15:40
ARU’s Policing Institute for the Eastern Region evaluates Thames Valley project
Anglia Ruskin University’s Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER) is leading important work to study the effectiveness of a project to deliver support for the families of people suspected of online child sexual abuse.
Dr Theresa Redmond, a Senior Research Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), is working alongside Professor Rachel Armitage, from the University of Huddersfield, and Lucy Roberts, an Honorary Fellow of ARU and an expert through lived experience, to evaluate a pilot project based at Thames Valley Police.
In 2021, the Thames Valley Partnership charity, Family Matters, began a collaboration with the Thames Valley Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT). Family Matters is a charity that supports the families of people who have been sent to prison, and as part of this project, extended their services to help people with a family member being investigated for online child sexual abuse.
The partnership involves police officers proactively providing information about Family Matters to the family members affected, so that they must ‘opt out’ if they don’t wish to receive support. Until this point, no other services of this kind have been in place to support people who are seriously impacted by what is known as ‘the knock’ – the arrival of police officers at the home of a family where someone is suspected of this crime.
Formal results will be published soon, but initial findings of the pilot project are extremely positive, showing that the majority of families benefitted. It also helped police officers – who are aware of the impact of ‘the knock’ on families – because they knew that the families would be supported afterwards.
Dr Redmond said:
Dr Redmond added:
Other police forces are now trialling similar projects, and phase two of the team’s research will involve the evaluation of a scheme at Lincolnshire Police, where a dedicated police officer is delivering support for indirect victims of this kind, replicating the opt-out referral model.
Dr Redmond will be evaluating Lincolnshire’s new role, currently delivered by Pc Tom Scott, with a view to supporting the further development and roll out of this initiative, while PIER PhD student Millie Fjelldal will be based at Lincolnshire Police to carry out research on the project.
More information on this work can be found by watching ‘The knock’ presentation at PIER23 – the annual conference of the Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER), held at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford. Since delivering this presentation to a global audience, Dr Redmond, Professor Armitage and Lucy Roberts have been approached by numerous policing organisations looking to learn from the initiatives and explore the potential to implement similar schemes.