Rise in non-custodial sentences and increase in number of sex offenders supervised in community

Last year saw a further rise in the number of community-service sanctions handed down by Irish courts — with a marked increase in those involving female offenders.

The Probation Service Annual Report 2018 shows a rise in the number of sex offenders and prisoners with life sentences being supervised in the community.

However, there was a drop in the number of prisoners being released under a structured programme to probation officers.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan welcomed the increasing use of community-service sanctions, which can be handed down as an alternative to a prison sentence of 12 months or less for offenders aged over 16.

Probation Service Director Vivian Geiran said they worked with almost 16,000 offenders during 2018.

In his foreword, he said that reducing reoffending was a societal challenge which needed a “whole of society” response.

The annual report shows:

  • 15,777 offenders were dealt with in the community in 2018, compared to 15,269 in 2017 and 14,885 in 2016;
  • 2,449 community service orders were made last year, up 10% on 2017 (2,215) and up 18% on 2016 (2,067);
  • Females accounted for 17.5% of new referrals in 2018, compared to 16.1% in 2017, 16.6% in 2016, 15.2% in 2015 and 14.8% in 2014;
  • 648 young persons were supervised by the Probation Service in 2018, compared to 572 in 2017 and 595 in 2016;
  • 393 sex offenders were supervised in the community last year, compared to 376 in 2017 and 375 in 2016
  • 98 life sentence prisoners (released on licence) were being supervised in the community, compared to 93 in 2017 and 83 in 2016.
  • The report shows that the main offences involved in the referrals made in 2018 were theft (22%), drug offences (16%), assaults (15%), public order offences (11%), and road traffic offences (10%).

    Other serious offences include burglary (7.5%), weapons offences (3%), robbery (2%), and sexual offences (2%).

    The report said the number of prisoners on the Community Return structured release programme fell from 301 in 2016, to 221 in 2017, and to 218 in 2018.

    The number of offenders who successfully completed that programme was 270, 206, and 197 over those respective years.

    The number of inmates in prison that the Probation Service worked with fluctuated from 2,518 in 2016 to 2,930 in 2017, and down to 2,524 last year.

    In relation to sex offenders, the Probation Service runs various programmes: the Group Work Treatment Programme, a community-based project that operates in Dublin and Cork; Circles of Support and Accountability, where members of the local community work with medium to high-risk offenders; and the Floating Support Service, which is for high-risk, high-need offenders in the greater Dublin area.

    Of the 393 sex offenders, 146 were monitored under Sex Offender Risk Assessment and Management programme, which brings together the gardaí, Tusla, local authorities, the Irish Prison Service, and Probation Service. The latter service also runs programmes for perpetrators of domestic violence and related training for its staff.

    The report said that the 2,499 community orders involved 355,404 hours of community service work, amounting to €3m worth of unpaid work for the benefit of local areas.

    More on this topic

    Rise in arrests under gang lawsRise in arrests under gang laws

    Gardaí investigate report of attack on girl, 5, by three young boysGardaí investigate report of attack on girl, 5, by three young boys

    US family hail 'overwhelming generosity' of Irish people after equipment and wedding footage stolen US family hail 'overwhelming generosity' of Irish people after equipment and wedding footage stolen

    Gardaí appeal for potential victims of alleged assaults on women at Connolly StationGardaí appeal for potential victims of alleged assaults on women at Connolly Station

    More in this Section

    Man fined for deer-poaching in Wicklow MountainsMan fined for deer-poaching in Wicklow Mountains

    UCC researchers find hundreds of centuries-old newletters in Medici vaultsUCC researchers find hundreds of centuries-old newletters in Medici vaults

    GSOC investigate after Garda accidentally shoots himself in the footGSOC investigate after Garda accidentally shoots himself in the foot

    Substantial delays on upgrades to West Cork hospitals Substantial delays on upgrades to West Cork hospitals


    Lifestyle

    Garbage offered a pop twist on grunge’s maximalist angst when they materialised in a dramatic swirl in the mid-Nineties. Like a candy-cane Nirvana, they were bleak and baroque but with tunes you could hum in the dark.Garbage's return to Dublin well worth the wait

    Circle back to fashion's hottest retro print, says Annmarie O'Connor.Trend of the Week: Circling back to fashion's hottest retro print

    Ever wondered what it would be like to move lock, stock and barrel into a tiny home, like the ones on Netflix’s Tiny House Nation?Are you ready to join the tiny-house movement?

    Kya deLongchamps reports back on the performance of her photovoltaic array and wonders if it could handle the addition of an electric carDIY: Get ready for a natural high

    More From The Irish Examiner