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In 1993, TDI was established to think innovatively about the problems of sexual offending. Since then, we have made substantial contributions to public protection through our research, training and partnership working.

Over the last 25 years and more we have played a key role in the establishment of both Northumbria's pioneering Sexual Behaviour Unit and Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangments; we conducted foundational research in to the impacts of an ageing prison population on sex offender management in prisons; and we have trained tens of thousands of professionals in diverse fields to better manage the risks of sexual offending, most notably through Leisurewatch, the country's leading programme designed to support lay staff managing public spaces in reducing the risk of sexual harm. We are proud to have worked across the whole of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as internationally, and to have had our work recognised by the Home Office, the Department of Education, the former Association of Chief Police Officers, police forces, housing associations, probation services and faith groups up and down the country, and regulatory bodies overseas.


A brief history of TDI

1993 The Derwent Initiative is launched by Sue Winfield and Professor Don Grubin in response to the Cleveland sex abuse scandal. Initially, TDI focuses primarily on developing inter-agency networks. Work includes a regular communiqué to practitioners, a newsletter, regional forums and consultation days. TDI’s reach is limited to the north-east of England.

1994 TDI establishes itself as an organisation concerned with initiating, facilitating and disseminating research and best practice in the field of sexual offending. The first edition of the Directory is published, listing professionals and practitioners across the North East.  TDI operates a helpline giving information and advice on local services. It produces the first multi-agency protocol for housing sex offenders.

1995 TDI hosts a conference on “Preventative Child Protection – The Response to Abusers” attended by health purchasers and providers. We are established as a registered charity. The first training courses for magistrates are devised and delivered.

1996 TDI’s first full-time administrator is employed. Five major forums are held, and a pilot project on the assessment of young offenders is launched. The first of “The Derwent Series” – a range of publications and manuals – is published, entitled “Assessing Risk in Sexually Abusive Young People”.

1997 The Sexual Behaviour Unit is launched, a joint NHS, Probation Service and Barnardo’s initiative designed to provide multi-disciplinary assessment of sex offenders; this is facilitated by TDI. The second publication in The Derwent Series is released, entitled “Sexual Abuse of Children; The Legal Framework”. Thanks to TDI’s work, Northumbria is the first authority in the country to offer a fully-integrated plan for the housing of sex offenders.

1998 The Sexual Behaviour Unit becomes a major resource across the North East for assessments, treatment programmes and training. Over 100 different organisations take part in TDI forums. The housing project attracts national attention from organisations including the Home Office. TDI finds itself at the cutting edge of Government thinking as the guidance to the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 enshrines multi-agency working as best practice.

1999 TDI launces a series of forums designed to produce quality standards for inter-agency work. Negotiations with local prisons result in a plan for co-operative work between prison staff, Northumbria Probation’s sex offender team and the Sexual Behaviour Unit.

2000 The Criminal Justice and Courts Services Act (2000) introduces Multi-agency Public Protection Arrangments, consolidating the sort of inter-agency work TDI has been at the forefront of promoting. TDI streamlines a number of existing projects and strands under the heading “Connect”. Community partnership is a new area of work, building links between professional agencies and communities themselves. This new approach seeks to deal with the increasing problem of vigilantism and involve communities more directly in the problems presented by sex offenders.

2001 The Leisurewatch Scheme is launched with funding from the Government Office North-East to run a pilot in three locations in Northumbria. Following its evaluation, the Dangerous Offenders Unit at the Home Office provides major funding to develop Leisurewatch pilot schemes nationally. TDI starts a new project to help communities respond to learning disabled people whose sexual behaviour causes concern.

2002 Leisurewatch completes a successful pilot and is officially released as an off-the-peg training product. The learning disability project achieves its main aim of initiating assessment services and starts co-ordinating community support services. TDI decides to develop a new work strand dealing with young people who sexually offend.

2003 TDI undertakes a collaborative research project with the University of Northumbria into the management of, and health and social care provision for, elderly sex offenders. The Leisurewatch programme continues to grow, with new staff recruited specifically to train leisure staff. New manuals and training guide are produced to provide better course materials for participants. TDI continues to hold forums for those concerned with the provision for learning disabled sex offenders.

2004 Creation of National Offender Management Service – bringing together prison and probation services in inter-agency partnerships of the type TDI has championed since its creation. Leisurewatch is now a national programme. Delivery of the first regional treatment programme for learning-disabled sex offenders commences. A project is started to carry out research into the mental health needs of young sex offenders. TDI develops new responses to the creation of MAPPAs (multi-agency public protection arrangements) and contributes to the 'best-practice' discussion relating to multi-agency work.

2005 The three-year funding from the Home Office comes to an end and Leisurewatch becomes a financially independent training programme. TDI publishes a scoping report into the needs of elderly sexual offenders, co-authored with the Community Safety Research Unit of Northumbria University.

2006 The Government’s statutory guidance ‘Safeguarding Children and Young People from Sexual Exploitation’ cites the Leisurewatch programme as a set of safeguarding standards which it encourages private sector organisations to undertake. More than 3000 people have now been through the Leisurewatch training programme. Work starts on the 'Defensible Decisions' project. Research is published into 'Assessing risk in young people who sexually abuse'.

2007 The Association of Chief Police Officers endorses Leisurewatch as part of its ‘Secured by Design’ initiative, which acknowledges the quality of crime prevention projects. TDI undergoes a strategic review and a complete re-launch. Variations of Leisurewatch, including Leisurewatch Link and Hospital Watch, are planned and pilot schemes are prepared. TDI hosts a conference on “'Defensible Decisions', bringing together practitioners and professionals from a range of agencies. The report 'The Mental Health Needs of Young People who Offend' is published.

2008 New training around safeguarding and sex offender awareness for housing associations launched. TDI launches a new programme of research and training around the needs of offenders with learning disabilities, and those who work with them in various capacities.

2009 Training developed and delivered for staff working in prisons, responding to the early signs of demographic changes within the prison estate of increasing numbers of sexual offenders in prisons where they would not previously been held.

2010 Research is undertaken into the procedures and standards of criminal record checks across the European Union, developing a simple and voluntary self-checking system for EU nationals wanting to work in restricted professions and roles within the UK. TDI initiates the ‘Sayso’ project, which aimed to bring together and develop thinking around the needs of young people, both as victims and offenders, through a series of pieces of research and events.

2011 TDI develops a strand of work around supporting faith-based organisations and communities who knowingly or unknowingly come into contact with sex offenders, thinking through how to balance the needs of community protection with desires for forgiveness and inclusion.

2012 TDI hosts the ‘Under the Surface’ series, four events considering cross-cutting issues around sexual offending and sexual harm, with participants from many different sectors. It takes part in the development of new Clinical Care Groups to establish standards for safeguarding patients. The ‘Parents Protect’ project is undertaken to help parents respond to the risk of sexual offending and to dispel myths around it. The success of this project led to it being extended to education professionals.

2013 The report on the ‘Under the Surface’ series is published, offering 21 recommendations covering the range of sectors discussed to promote defensible decision-making, inter-agency working and public protection. Following earlier work on the care needs of elderly offenders held in prison and the community, TDI is commissioned by Northumbria Probation to develop a further report on these issues in collaboration with Age Concern.

2014 TDI re-organised its structure, adapting to the challenges faced by the charity sector which saw so many of its peers close down. While managing to ensure our longer-term sustainability, the Leisurewatch programme is maintained and expanded and a new line of work around the challenges around sexual offending faced in the Higher Education sector is developed.

2015 TDI holds a series of forums around questions such as defensible decision-making in universities and the needs and challenges of the criminal records checking regime.

2016 The Leisurewatch training programme is extensively overhauled and updated, bringing it into line with the needs of a rapidly changing leisure sector. A new line of policy guidance documents are developed to help the scheme’s members adapt to new challenges around technology and operational requirements.

2017 TDI revisits its training packages, adapting them to better meet the needs of the changing environment of service provision. As part of Northumbria Police’s SHADE project around the safeguarding of sex workers, the Leisurewatch for Hotels programme is developed to help hotel staff protect all guests, including sex workers. In the wake of sexual harassment and abuse scandals in Hollywood, politics and journalism, TDI develop a new training package applying knowledge around offending to the workplace. TDI enter into a licensing agreement with a regulatory body in Australia, the first use of TDI's materials overseas.

2018 Plans for TDI's 25th year include the launching of the Leisurewatch Hotels and Working together for Safe Workplaces training, and the hosting of a new series of ‘Under the Surface’ forums to discuss developing issues.  TDI takes on the archives of the National Council for Social Concern as that charity wound down.

2019 TDI works to expand its training offer, reflecting the needs of organisations from community groups to housing assocations who are increasingly coming into contact with those convicted of sexual offences. A new strand of training around sexual harassment is developed, emphasising harassment as a sexual harm on a continuum with sexual offending.

2020 In the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, TDI develops 'Volunteering with Safety', a range of resources for the many voluntary groups established to help those affected by social distancing. The Leisurewatch programme is adapted to reflect the new responsibilities of those managing public spaces during periods of lockdown and re-opening.

2021 TDI expands its training and resources to make it easier for individuals and organisations to access the information and advice they need. This includes the Explainer series of free resources, and the Bitesize series of pre-recorded training programmes.

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