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The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde's Open Access research outputs. Strathprints provides access to thousands of Open Access research papers by University of Strathclyde researchers, including by researchers from the Department of Computer & Information Sciences involved in mathematically structured programming, similarity and metric search, computer security, software systems, combinatronics and digital health.

The Department also includes the iSchool Research Group, which performs leading research into socio-technical phenomena and topics such as information retrieval and information seeking behaviour.

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The sex offender public disclosure pilots in England and Scotland : lessons for ‘marketing strategies’ and risk communication with the public

Kemshall, Hazel and Weaver, Beth (2012) The sex offender public disclosure pilots in England and Scotland : lessons for ‘marketing strategies’ and risk communication with the public. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 12 (5). pp. 549-565. ISSN 1748-8958

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Abstract

In 2009 a sex offender public disclosure scheme was piloted in England and Scotland based upon political and policy assumptions about the public’s likely take-up of such a scheme. However, the pilots found lower than anticipated public use of the scheme. By drawing on the notions of instrumental and symbolic efficacy this article explores the potential implications of the current rate of take-up. Is the instrumental efficacy of the scheme, that is, its role in providing advice and information to the public about sex offenders mitigated by low take-up? Does the scheme offer symbolic reassurance to the public about sex offender management and how might this be affected by current take-up rates? The public response to disclosure is also examined through the lens of recent risk communication research, in particular Health Promotion models that critique a simplistic ‘hypodermic’ approach to risk communication. Finally, the symbolic efficacy of public disclosure is examined with specific reference to Jackson and Gray’s (2010) ‘functional fear’.