The National Police Chiefs' Lead for Child Abuse Investigation has today accepted the position of Patron at a charity promoting greater access to therapy for potential child sex abuse offenders.

StopSO UK offers therapy to anyone who is worried or concerned about their sexual thoughts or behaviour before an offence has been committed.

So harmful is the impact of sexual abuse, a therapeutic rather than criminal approach to the issue divides opinion.

Explaining his support of StopSO, Chief Constable Bailey said: "When you look at the number of child abuse image offenders that we are arresting, less than a quarter are actually receiving any form of custodial sentence."

"When they go to prison, there's no form of rehabilitation whatsoever for that offending type."

"Seventy-five percent are simply getting a suspended sentence or some form of community service order or conditional discharge."

"I genuinely think the evidence is there that would say that we need to start an alternative debate. The evidence is there that says we've got to start doing something different."

Therapist's view

StopSO Chair and psychosexual therapist, Juliet Grayson said: "During 2017, almost 800 people asked StopSO for help. Over a third of these people are reaching out for help before an offence has been committed."

"Twenty percent are young adults, mostly students, or people on low income who are unable to afford therapy. StopSO needs funding to be able to offer free or subsidised therapy to clients and protect children from harmful sexual behaviour."

"Reports of child sexual abuse continue to rise year on year and we have to do everything we can to meet the challenge."

Bailey’s appointment as Patron follows the charity’s launch of an awareness campaign No More Harm (#nomoreharm). The campaign will share the life-altering experiences of victims of sexual abuse.

Grayson said: “Not only will this campaign serve to remind us all how the pain and suffering caused by sexual abuse could and should be prevented, it will also send out a strong message to would-be abusers."

"If it means there’s one less victim who needs our support, then it will have been worthwhile."

“Keeping children safe from sexual abuse should always be our absolute priority," a spokesperson for children's charity the NSPCC told Mental Health Today.

"Now more than ever this requires a range of approaches that includes working with offenders and those who have not offended yet."

"Having Chief Constable Simon Bailey, with his knowledge and expertise, closely involved in this work can only be a good thing.”