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France rolls out national sex crime prevention helpline

National rollout of free helpline follows a successful trial in seven regions

A phone hotline for people worried about committing sexual offences is to be rolled out across the whole of France following a successful year-long trial in seven regions.

The telephone helpline (08 06 23 10 63), intended to prevent sex crimes against children and adolescents by offering advice and assistance to people before the fact, was launched in November 2019 in Occitanie, in Centre-Val de Loire, Paca, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and in Nouvelle Aquitaine, and extended into Ile-de-France and Grand Est during the Spring lockdown.

Since its launch, and despite a lack of widespread publicity, mental health experts operating the free and confidential line for the Centre ressources pour les intervenants auprès des auteurs de violences sexuelles (Criavs) have responded to 200 calls from people concerned they may be in danger of committing a sex crime - from accessing material to assault.

Criavs has a network of 200 experts across France who focus on prevention, research, training, documentation and co-ordinating care networks.

On first contacting the line, the caller is triaged by a call-handler who directs them to a psychologist, psychiatrist or nurse. They are then referred to the healthcare network available in their region for further treatment.

France has lagged behind other nations in developing this system. A similar service has been operational in the UK since 2002 and in Germany since 2005. By March 2018, more than 9,500 Germans had contacted the service, which is often highlighted in public service announcements on primetime TV so people are aware of it.

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