Recidivism low for sex offenders

Almost half of sex offenders currently in the prison system are undertaking psychological treatment, with the Irish Prison Service stressing that other offenders were accessing other forms of support.

The figures show that 343 prisoners are in custody who have been convicted of a sex offence, and of those 168 — or 48% — are currently engaged with the prison system’s psychology service, including the ‘Building Better Lives’ programme first opened up in 2009.

The figures, provided by the Irish Prison Service, also show that of the total number of individuals convicted of sexual violence, 178 currently in custody will be required to participate in post-release supervision with the Probation Service.

There are 258 individuals convicted of sexual violence under the supervision of the Probation Service in the community. According to a spokesman for the IPS: “There has been considerable transformation in our response to the treatment of those convicted of sexual violence since 2009.”

Prisoners serving sentences for sex offences are housed in the Midlands and Arbour Hill prisons, with the IPS stating that both prisons provide a National Programme of Excellence in order to reduce risk of re-offending and enhance public protection “to the greatest possible extent”.

It cited figures from the Central Statistics Office showing that recidivism rates for those who were released from a prison sentence for any crime in 2008 and 2009 reported a recidivism rate of 14.9% and 21.1%, respectively, with the IPS spokesman stating that of those that re-offended, none were for a sex offence.

The ‘Building Better Lives’ (BBL) programme has operated since 2009 and typically sees an individual participating in the programme undergo six to eight hours of risk assessment, followed by treatment over three stages: ‘Exploring Better Lives’ (EBL); ‘Practicing Better Lives’ (PBL) which includes 60 to 70 sessions of in-depth therapeutic and risk relevant work; and ‘Maintaining Better Lives’ (MBL), which support maintenance of progress.

The programme can be delivered to a group of offenders or individually, depending on the person’s needs, and the spokesman said it includes family meetings, regular reviews and monitoring of participant progress.

It also includes the development of a comprehensive risk management and resettlement plan, with key to engagement an acknowledgement that an offence was committed.

“Those who continue to deny their offence are instead subject to risk assessment and management interventions as appropriate,” the spokesman said.

“From 2016, the EBL will be facilitated jointly in the Midlands prison by the IPS Psychology Service and the Probation Service.

Individuals will then transfer to Arbour Hill prison to complete the PBL programme which is facilitated by the IPS Psychology Service.

Individuals will then complete the MBL in either Arbour Hill or the Midlands prison. The MBL is currently facilitated by the Probation Service in Arbour Hill.”


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