Hampshire police have issued scores of leaflets to people at risk of committing child sexual exploitation (CSE) offences warning them to change their ways.
Since introducing so-called C5 notices in October 2016, the force has given 54 of these warnings out.
The leaflets remind the recipient to think about who they are talking to, make informed choices about their sexual behaviour, think about consent and the consequences of their actions.
However concerns have been raised that they ‘won’t protect a soul’.
What is a C5 notice?
Hampshire Constabulary were the first police force in the country to introduce the C5 notices - doing so on October 6, 2016.
The leaflets were introduced as a new process for changing potential perpetrator behaviour in CSE cases which do not result a person being charged.
Before they are issued, a supervisor with extensive knowledge of the case would have to authorise the use of a C5 notice.
The notice will only be served on perpetrators who have been released with no further action following a thorough police investigation or where intelligence exists that cannot be developed and service of the notice would not increase the risk to a victim.
How do they work?
Working with a leading criminologist Dr Graham Hill and the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a disruption notice known as C5 Notice was developed by the force.
The appropriately named C5 Notice focuses on five areas of concerning behaviour:
The notice makes clear the law around sexual offending and what types of behaviour and acts are unacceptable.
The purpose of this notice is to change behaviour through education and signposting to support through the Lucy Faithfull Foundation’s ‘Stop it now’ helpline.
How many have been issued?
In the two years since the C5 notices were introduced by Hampshire Constabulary, the force has issued 54.
Which works out on average as 2.25 being issued each month since October 2016.
Of the 54 C5 notices given out by the force nine people have gone on to be charged with a sexual offence after being issued with one.
Hampshire Constabulary were unable to give a break down of the geographical locations where in the county the C5 notices had been issued.
‘Won’t protect a soul’
The C5 notice can appear on an enhanced DBS check – which some critics argue potentially risks penalising innocent people.
However Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner told the BBC that she feared the C5 notices ‘won't protect a soul’ and could even ‘put police off the scent’ during an investigation.