Projects & Events

Circles4EU aims to encourage and to facilitate the development across Europe of Circles of Support and Accountability (Circles) as a humane, just, effective and indispensable means of reducing sexual reoffending.

In April 2008, Bas Vogelvang, Professor of Probation, Parole and Safety Policy at Avans University of Applied Sciences, visited a CEP workshop Life after Prison, Resettling adult offenders, in Glasgow. During one of the workshop sessions he first heard about COSA and how it was implemented in England. Enthusiastic about this innovative approach to monitor ex-sex offenders in the community and by the community, he became a strong advocate to start COSA in the Netherlands too.

The start of a European funded project

Not long after he found the Dutch Probation Service willing to pilot COSA in ‘s-Hertogenbosch area. Recognizing the potential for further implementation across Europe of COSA, Bas Vogelvang took the initiative to start a European funded project that would identify the critical factors for successful COSA transposition from one jurisdiction to another. This project, ‘Circles Europe: Together for Safety’ (JLS/DAP3/2008/1165), funded under the DAPHNE III Programme,  started in 2010 and was centered around the transfer of the COSA method from England to Netherlands and  in a second stage form Netherlands to Flanders.

A major outcome of this project was the publication of an European Handbook, a reference guide for the implementation of Circles in EU countries. This success drew attention from many European countries. Justice organizations in several countries had taken actual steps to implement Circles in the near future. Other countries were  orienting, expressing their interest in preparing the national and local conditions under which Circles can be expected to function properly.

Europe-wide selection

In 2011 at a CEP conference on What Works, the initiative was taken to apply for a follow-up project. In this application the whole partnership of the DAPHNE project ‘Circles Europe: Together for Safety’ project was involved. The other partners in the project were a Europe-wide selection of renowned organisations in practice and research regarding re-integration of offenders. This initiative eventually resulted in the project Circles4EU.

In Circles4EU, prison and probation organisations in Bulgaria, Latvia and Spain implemented Circles in their relevant jurisdictions. These organisations joined the partnership, together with research institutions in Sofia, Barcelona and Riga that have the competence to extend their research programmes towards re-integration of sex-offenders and victim prevention through Circles. Transferring Circles to these countries in Southern and Eastern Europe challenged the project to ‘test’ the methods described in the first edition of the European Handbook in countries which are culturally different from the countries in the former Daphne project.

At the same time, justice organisations in France, Ireland, and Hungary were seriously planning to implement Circles in a later stage. They joined the partnership to conduct adaptation studies, together with the Circles4EU Network, and prepare future implementation.