Saturday 25 May 2019

Offender tagging is just part of the solution

Straight Talking - Deborah Coleman

A proposal to introduce electronic tagging for convicted sex offenders has been approved by the Government, paving the way for amendments to the Sex Offenders Act 2001.

It is also understood that a new move of reporting the address of a known sex offender to neighbours and schools could be made in the near future.

When this news was announced, it was met with mixed reactions.

Some suggested that it was a sensible idea and that 'if you did the crime, you serve the time' or in this case - wear the tag.

Others expressed concern that tagging is not enough to ensure that society is going to be protected from potential re-offenders.

It was suggested that just five per cent of sex offenders actually go through the courts and are convicted in Ireland, so with the best will in the world, tagging them upon release, still leaves a somewhat concerning level of predators walking the streets without any tell-tale signs.

Notwithstanding this fact, for those who have been made accountable and faced criminal proceedings, given the nature of their crime it is simply not enough to say they have served their time and then let them on their way. Electronic tagging is a visible way to ensure that people know the risks a person poses and also supports an offender to stay on the straight and narrow and to be reminded of their fate should they re-offend.

It is important, however that the authorities do not go down the route of trusting these tags to take care of the problem.

Sex offenders must be continually monitored post-release and there are other ways to work towards reducing the figures of future offences carried out by those already convicted. The naming and shaming suggestion, while affords communities information about who is living nearby, might not always be in the best interests of all concerned.

There is an element of 'not in my back yard' but once we are aware of a specific sex offender living near our children and our schools and sports clubs, then that creates fear, stress and panic.

While monitoring those who have offended is always going to be an important practice, as a society we need to be taking more steps to stamp out abuse and sexual crimes instead of reacting once they have already been committed.

Enniscorthy Guardian