‘One of the tools in the toolbox’ police perceptions of using remote monitoring software to manage convicted online child sex offenders
child sexual abuse
Subject Categories::L590 Social Work not elsewhere classified
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AbstractThe last 20 years have seen an explosion in the availability, ownership and use of devices used to access the internet. Simultaneously, technology has facilitated the distribution of child abuse material, but is also used to prevent and identify offending. The central argument of this thesis is that while technology is already used in the investigation of online child sexual abuse, including the prosecution of offenders, its use in their risk assessment and ongoing management is still in its nascence. This thesis explores the use of one type of technology - remote monitoring software (RMS) - to manage the computer activity of adult offenders convicted of online child sexual abuse crimes, who are now living in the community. Remote monitoring software can be installed on offenders’ devices and runs constantly in the background, monitoring their device use for inappropriate content. If it detects a violation, the software takes a screen grab and sends it to a secure server that can be monitored remotely. At the time of the research remote monitoring software was in use in 17 of the United Kingdom’s 45 police forces. The central research question of this thesis is ‘What are the views of police offender managers about using remote monitoring software with convicted online child sex abuse offenders and what are the implications of their opinions and experiences?’ The research involved in-depth qualitative interviews with 47 police officers from 40 U.K. police forces. What results is an original and so-far unique contextual study examining the benefits and drawbacks of using RMS to manage these offenders, as perceived by officers. This thesis concludes that remote monitoring software has a range of potential benefits for police forces, but that these benefits are qualified by significant drawbacks and the lack of an evidence base about how and when it is best deployed. The legal framework underpinning its use presents ambiguities for officers, who need more guidance on virtually all aspects of its deployment. The effective adoption of remote monitoring software requires greater clarity about the aims and objectives of using it, and how to measure the these. Recommendations are made about bring a greater level of understanding and consistency to this area of developing policing practice.
CitationLilley, C. (2021) '‘One of the Tools in the Toolbox’ Police Perceptions of Using Remote Monitoring Software to Manage Convicted Online Sex Offenders.'. Professional Doctorate thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Professional Doctorate.
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