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In the past ten years or so there has been a growing concern that the treatment needs of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) sex offenders in prison are not being appropriately met. Underpinning this concern is the continued under representation of BME sex offenders on the Sex Offender Treatment Programme (SOTP). Although some research has been undertaken into how BME prisoners experience the SOTP and in to its ostensible effectiveness with BME sex offenders, little is known about why the take-up of the SOTP is poor with this group. In this paper we first consider some specific demographic issues that need to be understood in order to reflect more widely on the BME sex offender in prison. We then summarise what is currently known about effective practice with this group, thereafter we consider, in turn, current provision for BME sex offenders in England and Wales and suggestions for developing practice with this group of men.
However, before we turn to these issues, it is important to consider briefly issues of terminology. Terminologies in relation to ethnicities and race are fraught with conceptual difficulties. Aspinall has highlighted the limitations of ‘pan-ethnic’ groups, such as ‘BME’; such groupings are ‘statistical collectivities’ and ‘the groups thus defined will be nothing more than meaningless statistical collectivities that do not represent any of the constituent groups within the term.’ . However, at the outset of this paper we use the collective term BME - this term is currently used by a number of Government Departments in the UK, including the Prison Service. Later we suggest that a more sophisticated understanding of ethnic cultures may be necessary to develop practice with BME sex offenders.
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