Call for sex offenders to register in person

Gardaí want convicted sex offenders to register with gardaí in person and supply them with photographs and other personal information.

The call comes against the background of ongoing concern at shortcomings in the supervision of sex offenders on release from jail.

The annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), which starts today, will debate a motion calling for further security measures against sex offenders.

Delegates from the Roscommon/Longford branch are calling on Justice Minster Alan Shatter to amend the Sex Offenders Act 2001 and require sex offenders to:

* Supply personal information, including photographs, additional to what they are obliged to give gardaí;

* Update this data at intervals determined by gardaí according to the risk level;

* Complete any notification in person (ending the option to notify by post);

* Attend the district headquarters where he/she intends to live and not any station as currently stands.

Under the Sex Offenders Act 2001, a convicted offender only has to provide details of his name, date of birth and home address to gardaí. They do not have to provide a photograph.

In the Garda’s policy on managing sex offenders, divisional inspectors are advised to procure a photograph, but are told they have to get the “written consent” from the offender first.

The Sex Offenders Act also states offenders can notify any Garda station of their details on release and are not required to attend their local station or headquarters.

Furthermore, they do not have to go to a station and can notify by post.

The conference in Gorey, Co Wexford, will discuss a range of motions:

* A call to develop a National Witness Management Strategy for criminal trials, proposed by the DMR (Dublin Metropolitan Region) North branch;

* A motion calling for the current number of gardaí allowed to carry firearms to be maintained if not increased (Wicklow branch);

* Calls for a regional support unit (mobile armed response squads) to be set up in the South East amid concerns by the Wexford branch that the safety of members was being “compromised” without it;

* A review of the impact of staff cuts and increased workload on gardaí with a view to restore morale (DMR South Central);

* A motion condemning the Government’s failure to provide funds to end the “unacceptable depletion” of the Garda fleet (Kerry; Louth; Kilkenny/Carlow).

Mr Shatter will address the conference this evening.

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