Dewson, Chelsey (2021) Sexual Offending Against Children: Utilising Narrative Frameworks to Explore the Cognitive, Affective and Behavioural Experiences of Crime and the Static Risk Implications. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Despite ongoing advancements in sex offender risk assessments, the psychological dimensions of static risk assessments such as the Static-99R and the Static-2002R are still unclear. These tools are based on largely unchangeable and historical risk factors which have been empirically linked to recidivism. Whilst they hold moderate predictive validity, recent research has highlighted the need to identify psychologically meaningful constructs underpinning these tools. The current study has taken a novel approach to identify these constructs through examination of the cognitive, affective, and behavioural features of crime, utilising offender narrative frameworks. Forty men with convictions for sexual offences against children participated in this research and provided a personal account of their offences. They also completed questionnaires relating to the roles they assigned to themselves and their emotional experiences during the offence. The offender's interactions with the victim were investigated through their crime scene behaviour, as outlined in official documentation. Finally, their level of risk was determined using the Static-99R and Static-2002R. The analysis identified that the positive and aroused affective states are predictive of high scores on 'persistent paraphilia', as were criminal behaviours where the victim was behaviourally coerced and manipulated. Overall high scores on static risk were predicted by the offender physically controlling the victim through subjugation and objectification. Narratives, where the victim held little personal significance to the offender, were statistically correlated with high persistent paraphilia scores. A lack of agency on behalf of the offender was also associated with high-risk scores. This study is the first of its kind in investigating offenders' risk through their own criminal experiences, expressed in narrative form. Sexual violence is a complex and multidimensional construct, and these results suggest that narrative frameworks can provide fruitful insight into an offender's experiences, aiding in the conceptualisation of recidivism risk.

FINAL THESIS - Dewson.pdf - Accepted Version
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