All-island assessment of sex offenders by year-end

SEX offenders will be assessed and possibly monitored on an all-Ireland basis by the end of 2009, according to Minister for Children Barry Andrews.

Addressing a conference titled Perspectives on Sex Offending, hosted by the Association for Criminal Justice Research & Development’s (ACJRD), Mr Andrews said one of the priority targets for this year would be the introduction of an all-island system for the assessment of sex offenders.

“The work on this initiative is led within this jurisdiction by the Probation Service and the Garda Síochána.”

Concerns were raised during the summer that the creation of an all-island “register” of sex offenders would be inhibited by the lack of legalisation in the Republic governing the monitoring of such criminals.

It is now expected the stricter British model of monitoring will also be followed here.

At the conference held in Castleknock in Dublin, Mr Andrews said that a criminal justice approach to dealing with sex offenders could only be part of the measures to protect society.

“The criminal justice system only deals with a minority of offenders — those found guilty and convicted of a criminal offence. Many others need access to community-based services on a voluntary basis so as to enhance community safety,” he said.

He said the rehabilitation of offenders was still a priority citing the Lighthouse treatment programmes run by the Probation Service in partnership with the Granada Institute.

Among the experts addressing the one day conference was Derek Ogg QC, head of the National Sexual Crimes Unit in Scotland.

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