Tighter controls on sex offenders
New laws to tackle loopholes on criminals' movements after release
TIGHTER controls over the movements of convicted sex offenders are to be introduced in the new year.
They will allow gardai and probation officers to impose stricter conditions on offenders after they have been released from prison or following a non-custodial sentence imposed by a court, it was learned last night.
Ireland does not have an official sex offenders' register but an offender is obliged by law to supply his address to gardai after he has been set free.
However, the offender does not have to provide a subsequent address if he moves.
This loophole is one area being examined by authorities as they prepare to draft new legislation to be brought before Cabinet by Justice Minister Alan Shatter in the new year.
Legislative changes were originally included in a new bill on human trafficking in 2008 but this did not go ahead and the alterations have been lying in limbo since then.
Currently, offenders must also notify gardai if they are leaving the jurisdiction for more than seven days.
They can move across the border or go overseas for six nights without indicating their whereabouts, but are then obliged by law on the seventh day to provide the information. Changes in this area will also be considered.
However, gardai say the vast majority of offenders are compliant with laws and there have been very few cases of them trying to exploit loopholes.
Despite these gaps, however, Ireland is one of only five countries in the world which has specific legislation dealing with sex offenders and is probably second to the UK in its controls over freed convicts.
Security sources said last night that the changes overall would allow gardai and probation officers more scope in managing the movements of an offender and would also lead to stricter criteria for doing so.
Files on sex criminals are kept up to date at the sex offenders' intelligence and management unit within the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Gardai said these files enabled them to make speedy contact with offenders, if necessary.
Meanwhile, they dismissed recent reports that notorious rapist Larry Murphy had disappeared in Europe and could no longer be contacted by officers.
They said they were satisfied that he could be located and contacted, if required, and his whereabouts were known to them.
Murphy is understood to be living in northern Europe right now, after moving there from an address he used in Spain following his release from prison here.
Murphy, who is from Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, moved abroad shortly after he was set free from Arbour Hill Prison in Dublin in the summer of last year. He remained in Spain, apart from a short visit back home earlier this year.
Gardai and the media are frequently contacted by worried residents about reports that Murphy has moved into their neighbourhood. These reports have surfaced mainly in Counties Dublin, Kildare and Galway over the past 15 months but have all been false.
Murphy was convicted of abducting and raping a young Carlow woman more than 11 years ago.