Sex offender risk assessment and management in Ireland

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Walker, Mary
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University College Cork
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This research examined sex offender risk assessment and management in Ireland. It focused on the statutory agencies with primary responsibility (Garda Síochána and the Probation Service). The goal was to document the historical, contextual and current systems, in addition to identifying areas of concern/improvements. The research was a mixed-methods approach. Eight studies were conducted. This incorporated documentary reviews of four Commission to Inquire Reports, qualitative interviews/focus groups with Garda staff, Probation Service staff, statutory agencies, community stakeholders, various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and sex offenders. Quantitative questionnaires were also administered to Garda staff. In all over 70 interviews were conducted and questionnaires were forwarded to 270 Garda members. The overall findings are: Sex offender management in Ireland has become formal only since 2001. Knowledge, skills and expertise is in its infancy and is still evolving. Mixed reviews and questions regarding fitness for purpose of currently used risk assessments tools were noted. The Sex Offender Act 2001 requires additional elements to ensure safe sex offender monitoring and public protection. A judicial review of the Sex Offender Act 2001 was recommended by many respondents. Interagency working under SORAM was hugely welcomed. The sharing of information has been welcomed by managing agencies as the key benefit to improving sex offender management. Respondents reported that in practice, sex offender management in Ireland is fragmented and unevenly implemented. The research concluded that an independent National Sex Offender Authority should be established as an oversight and regulatory body for policy, strategy and direction in sex offender management. Further areas of research were also highlighted: ongoing evaluation and audits of the joint agency process and systems in place; recidivism studies tracking the risk assessment ratings and subsequent offending; and an evaluation of the current status of sex offender housing in Ireland.
Multi-agency working , Garda Síochána , Sex offenders , Risk assessment , Risk management , Probation service , Sex offender notification
Walker, M. 2014. Sex offender risk assessment and management in Ireland. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.