PACE is a voluntary sector organisation that works with people with convictions for a wide range of criminal offences. For over 50 years, PACE has been providing a variety of services to address their needs and that support their safe integration into the community.
- Prevention Services
- Accommodation Services
- Training & Social Enterprise
CoSA is one of three Prevention Services provided by PACE for people with convictions for harmful sexual behaviour.
CoSA is a community-based initiative operating on restorative principles. Working in partnership with the Probation Service, An Garda Siochána and other agencies, CoSA assists individuals who have been convicted of a serious sexual offence(s) in their efforts to live a life free of crime and harmful behaviour. These individuals, who we refer to as Core Members, participate in the programme voluntarily. The aim of the Circle is to prevent further victims of sexual harm. A CoSA is made up of an inner Circle of 4-6 volunteers and an Outer Circle of professionals working with the Core Member.
CoSA holds the following principles:
Voluntary participation based on informed consent
Core members, volunteers and professionals participate in CoSA voluntarily. All participants have a clear understanding of the purpose of CoSA.
The key motto of “no secrets” in relation to information shared between Circle members is accepted and understood by all members and Core Members consent to share information.
Core Members are aware of the potential consequences of participation and of sharing information.
Circles include people who have caused harm by harmful sexual behaviour, volunteers and relevant professionals (Probation Officers and Liaison Gardaí) working with them.
The support of the CoSA circle is of great benefit to our clients, particularly those who have few social contacts or supports in their lives. It allows them to talk about their lives in an environment that is nurturing, safe and pro social.
Probation Officer, Wexford, Ireland
CoSA adopts a problem solving approach by offering a safe space for Core Members to talk about triggers and risks related to reoffending, supporting them to put in place a plan to address these with a view to preventing further offences. Information about potential risks of reoffending will be passed on to the relevant professionals. In the broader context the return of people who have been convicted of sexually harmful behaviour to communities is viewed as problematic, CoSA makes a significant contribution to addressing this issue.
All members of CoSA are equal. Concern for and commitment to Volunteers (and by extension the broader community), Core Members and professionals is demonstrated by respecting the dignity and inherent value of all involved in CoSA.
Accountability and Support
At its core CoSA is a mechanism through which the harmful behaviour of the person who has committed a sexual offence is recognised and challenged in an appropriate way. Core Members voluntarily disclose information about their past offences and share information about their risk management plan.
In the context of CoSA the principle of safety applies firstly to the external community ensuring that communities are safer places by holding Core Members to account for their behaviour and risk management plans. Secondly Volunteer safety is promoted through voluntary participation, consultation about any types of offences they would not like to volunteer with and strong policies and procedures. Core Members safety is supported through voluntary participation and the involvement of professional in the outer circle.