Report shows role probation officers play

PROBATION officers supervised 164 sex offenders living among communities nationwide last year as well as 66 life sentence prisoners on temporary release.

The figures emerged from the Probation Service’s annual report, which was launched yesterday.

In it, the service’s director, Michael Donnellan, emphasised the role officers played steering offenders away from crime.

“Innocent people suffer the effects of crime in every community and neighbourhood. And in every city, town and rural area, offenders need strong, effective and creative interventions in order to help them move away from crime and a cycle of re-offending.”

The service received €50 million in 2006. Some 40% of its budget went to 66 community-based projects supporting officers’ work. Up to 50 sex offenders were supervised in communities who had not received a custodial sentence in the courts. Another 114 sex offenders who had been released from prison were supervised by the Probation Service. Separately, officers supervised 66 inmates on temporary release serving life sentences.

Officers in general helped offenders through alcohol misuse treatment courses, employment placements and counselling.

The Young Persons’ Probation service was also launched during the year, supporting troubled youths.

Up to 37 family conferences were held, where young perpetrators apologised directly to victims or offered them recompense.

Overall in 2006, officers completed 1,111 reports on young people and supervised 605 court orders involving them.

Launching the report, Justice Minister Brian Lenihan praised the extended probation work with young offenders. “I know that we can make great in-roads into tackling juvenile offending when we target, prioritise and work collaboratively with the key statutory and voluntary agencies,” he said.

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