120 sex offenders subject to monitoring

There are 120 sex offenders living in communities across the country who are subject to monitoring as part of post- release supervision orders.

According to figures released by the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, the largest concentration is in the Dublin North and North-East areas, where 32 are living.

A further 24 are living in the Dublin South and Wicklow area, while 23 have addresses in the West and North-West — excluding Westmeath.

In his reply, Mr Flanagan confirmed that a further 22 are living in the Midlands and the South-East, with 19 living in the South-West. The 120 subject to post- supervision orders represents an increase of six on the total for this time last year.

In the US, under the so-called Megan’s Law, State authorities disclose to the public the addresses of freed sex offenders and the crimes of which they have been convicted.

In the UK, ‘Sarah’s Law’ allows parents to ask the police if someone who might have contact with their children has a criminal record for child sex offences.

However, a 2015 study showed that just one in six applications was successful, with police citing vigilantism fears as part of the reasons for withholding details.

No such provision exists in Irish law relating to the gardaí having to disclose the addresses of freed convicted sex offenders.

Around 1,000 sex offenders are obliged to provide local gardaí of their address and any change when moving. However, post-supervision orders go a step further where they require offenders to undergo psychological counselling or other treatment.

Those sex offenders who breach post-release supervision conditions are liable to prison terms not exceeding 12 months.

Mr Flanagan said that figures relating to non-compliance of supervision orders are not readily available.

In a separate Dáil reply to Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan, Mr Flanagan confirmed there are currently three sex offenders and one killer currently on temporary release.

The latest figures from the Irish Prison Service show there has been a steady increase in those jailed for sexual offences this year.

At the end of May, the figures show that there were 394 sex offenders jailed — or 8% of the prison population — and this represents a rise of six on April and eight on March when 386 sex offenders were behind bars.

Around three quarters of the sex offenders in jail are incarcerated in the Midlands prison with other quarter jailed at Arbour Hill.

Barbara Clinton, chairwoman of AdVic, an advocacy charity for families affected by homicide, said temporary release poses huge problems for victims.

“It has to be traumatising for any family to know the person who killed their loved one is going to be out walking about — and their loved one isn’t. And they’re going to have to face them. That is a nightmare in itself,” she said.

Ms Clinton said families were entitled to be informed about the relevant prisoner’s release, but they currently have to ‘opt in’ for this entitlement.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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