Written Answers. - Sex Offenders.

Tuesday, 23 June 1998

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 492 No. 7

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  306.  Dr. Upton    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform  Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue   the number of sex offenders held in the Curragh Prison, County Kildare; and the therapeutic services provided for sex offenders in the prison. [15055/98]

  307.  Dr. Upton    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform  Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue   the number of places on the sex offender programme in Arbour Hill Prison, Dublin 7. [15056/98]

  308.  Dr. Upton    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform  Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue   the number of sex offenders participating in the sex offender programme in Arbour Hill Prison, Dublin 7. [15057/98]

  309.  Dr. Upton    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform  Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue   the number of sex offenders in Arbour Hill Prison who have applied for the treatment programme for each year that data is available; the numbers treated under the programme for each year that data is available; and the total number of sex offenders held in Arbour Hill Prison for each year that data is available. [15058/98]

  310.  Dr. Upton    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform  Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue   the number of sex offenders held in Arbour Hill Prison, Dublin 7, who are awaiting treatment. [15059/98]

[1732]

  311.  Dr. Upton    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform  Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue   the inducements or advice, if any, given to sex offenders to seek treatment while they are held in prison. [15060/98]

  312.  Dr. Upton    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform  Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue   the data available regarding recidivism of sex offenders in Ireland. [15061/98]

  313.  Dr. Upton    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform  Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue   the rates of recidivism for sex offenders who have completed the treatment programme; the rates of recidivism for those sex offenders who have not participated in a treatment programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15062/98]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I propose to take Questions Nos. 306, 307, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312 and 313 together.

There are ten places on the Arbour Hill group treatment programme which takes ten to eleven months to complete. I am keen to increase the number of group treatment places available for sex offenders and, to this end, my Department is actively examining the possibility of locating a further treatment programme for ten sex offenders at the Curragh. However, as specialised skills and resources are necessary to set up and run such a programme, it will take some time to put a new programme in place.

There are currently nine sex offenders participating in the group treatment programme in Arbour Hill. This group is due to finish the programme in July next. A further group, the fifth to date, will begin the programme in the autumn. The group treatment programme caters for sentenced sex offenders. Information in relation to the demand for and participation in the group programme is set out in the following table.

June 1994 June 1995 June 1996 June 1997
Number in Arbour Hill who applied for the programme 26 19 30 26
Total number who entered programme 10 10 10 10
Number who completed programme 9 8 10 9*

*to finish July 1998.

It is difficult to give an accurate indication of the number of sex offenders in Arbour Hill who are awaiting treatment. An initial application from an offender to participate in the programme tends to reflect a minimum level of interest in treatment with many offenders dropping out at the assessment stage. Since the group treatment programme commenced in Arbour Hill about 15 per cent to 20 per cent of sex offenders throughout [1733] the entire prison system, 35 to 40 offenders, showed an interest in applying for a place on the programme each year. Following assessment this number tended to reduce to 20 to 25 offenders. Where more than ten offenders are considered suitable for the programme priority is given to those nearest their release dates with the others being offered a place on subsequent programmes.

Each year all sex offenders in custody are invited to apply for a place on the group treatment programme in Arbour Hill. While all sex offenders are encouraged to avail of treatment they are neither compelled to attend, nor do they receive any extra concessions for attending. The clinical psychology service and probation and welfare service actively encourage sex offenders to address their needs around their offending behaviour. Important work in this regard is done in individual sessions by members of both services. An integral part of this work is preparing sex offenders for, and encouraging them to apply for, the sex offender programme at Arbour Hill.

There are 94 sex offenders in the Curragh place of detention. There are no therapeutic services available there, at present, but individual counselling from my Department's clinical psychology service and from the probation and welfare service will be provided at the earliest opportunity. In addition, any prisoner there may apply to participate in the dedicated treatment programme available in Arbour Hill Prison.

I am not aware of the existence of any data in relation to recidivism among sex offenders in Ireland. My Department has commissioned the Clinical Psychology Department at University College Dublin to conduct a detailed evaluation of the group treatment programme at Arbour Hill. This will take a number of years to complete and should eventually provide empirical data that demonstrates the efficacy of treatment, as measured by reduced recidivism amongst treated offenders compared to an untreated control group.


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