Shelving of plan to tag sex offenders unacceptable – Naughten

In Families by Denis Naughten

child with teddy bearReports today, that the Government has long fingered urgent reform of the law on the monitoring of high risk sex offenders post their release from prison is completely unacceptable, states Denis Naughten TD
“For the last six years we have been waiting on urgent laws to close off gaping loopholes in our so called ‘sex offenders register’ and to give Gardai the legal tools to effectively monitor those who pose a risk to children, women and vulnerable adults,” stated Denis Naughten.

“It was expected that the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill would allow for the tagging of high risk sex offenders, after their release from prison, which would make our streets safer for women and children.

“In fact the current situation is so dire that the Irish Prison Service has been proactive in planning for the new law and already has 50 new electronic tags available for use once the law has been enacted, which is currently costing the service over €100,000 pa.

“It was also expected that the legislation would provide the Gardai with the power, in certain circumstances, to inform a parent or the community of the risk a sex offender poses to a child or the community as a whole.

“We understood that the law would make provision for parents to have the right to access relevant information from the Gardai regarding a high risk sex offender who is living in their community, and who poses a threat to their son or daughter.

“While I await the publication of this law, I believe that if these provisions are not included then it will be a significant step backwards in the protection of children by failing to provide for the effective monitoring of sex offenders.

“If it is the case, that these important provisions have been removed from the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, I will be seeking the support of TDs on all sides of the Dáil to have the law amended to ensure that a robust piece of legislation is put in place to protect children and vulnerable adults in communities right across this country,” concluded Denis Naughten.

Denis raising this in the Dáil today:

Link to proposed legislation: Child Sex Offenders (Information And Monitoring) Bill 2012 [PMB] as initiated and Explanatory Memorandum:

Denis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Independent)
402. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the total cost in 2014 and to date in 2015, respectively, of the electronic tagging programme; the number of persons on remand and on conditional release, respectively, with an electronic tag; the number of persons on the sex offenders register with an electronic tag; the total number of electronic tags available, and in use, within the justice system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18368/15]

Frances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)

Following a competitive tender in 2014, Chubb Ireland was awarded the contract for the supply of electronic monitoring of prisoners for the Irish Prison Service. The annual cost of the contract will depend on the number of prisoners who are monitored throughout the course of the year. It is expected that the average monthly costs of the contract will be in the region of €9,500 (excluding VAT).

The total cost of the provision of electronic tagging in 2014 was €73,961. For 2015, the total cost as at 30th April 2015 is €34,119.

As I have previously explained, electronic monitoring is mainly used by the Irish Prison Service to monitor prisoners who have been granted temporary release from prison to attend as hospital in-patients. It thus allows for a reduction in staffing costs for hospital escorts. In considering any prisoner for temporary release, under the specified conditions relating to the management of the electronic monitoring process, public safety remains the primary operational consideration. In this context there are 4 offenders on conditional release with an electronic tag.

The Sex Offenders Act 2001 contains a comprehensive series of provisions aimed at protecting children and other persons. Part 2 of the Act makes persons convicted of a range of sexual offences subject to notification requirements, often referred to as the “sex offenders register”.

At present there is no provision in the Act for the electronic tagging of sex offenders. Provisions have been included in the General Scheme of the new Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, which will amend the Sex Offenders Act, to allow for the electronic tagging of sex offenders in certain circumstances. The Bill is scheduled for publication during the current parliamentary session.