Rapists may be electronically tagged after release from jail

Rapists and other serious sex offenders released from prison may be electronically tagged in an attempt to prevent further attacks under Government plans set to be revealed today.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan will announce the fresh attempt to clamp down on the crimes today, as part of measures focused on prisoners after they are released from jail.

Under plans due to be discussed at cabinet this morning, Mr Flanagan will say there is a need to consider giving judges new powers to protect the public and to monitor people convicted of serious crimes.

And among the series of measures will be a request to allow judges to sign off on “electronic monitoring for sex offenders” who have already completed jail sentences if officials have fears they are likely to commit further offences.

Sources said the move is in its draft early stages, must still be examined by the Oireachtas justice committee and “is only one of a very wide range of additional measures” focused on former prisoners.

However, any decision to further protect the public from the threat of serious sex offenders is likely to be welcomed if a coherent approach for how it can be introduced is provided.

The electronic tagging move is part of a fresh attempt by the Government to increase protections for the public from serious sex offenders a year after a previous bid suffered a series of legislative delays and three years after the need for the action was first raised.

In response to Communications Minister Denis Naughten’s call for electronic tagging of sex offenders in 2017, then justice minister Frances Fitzgerald sought to introduce a version of the plan last year.

However, while the move was backed by rival parties and expert groups last year, concerns over the cost of the measure compared to the relatively small number of people who would be tagged led to a number of questions being raised over the proposal.

Among the other draft plans due to be announced by Mr Flanagan today are likely to be other increased penalties for ex-prisoners who have been released from jail.

Electronic tagging is used in rare circumstances by the Irish Prison Service to monitor people who have been granted temporary released from jail to attend hospital and other valid reasons.

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