Thursday, June 30, 2005

Sex offender codes 'established'

Clear procedures for assessing and managing sex offenders posing a risk to the Northern Ireland public have now been established, says a new report.There are almost 550 people on the sex offenders' register in the province. The Northern Ireland Sex Offender Strategic Management Committee (NISOSMC) published its first report on its member agencies' work on Tuesday. It aims to protect the public from the threat posed by sex offenders through assessment and risk management. Police, prison, probation, health and housing representatives sit on the committee, as well as those agencies supporting victims. The report found that the number of registered sex offenders in Northern Ireland on 31 March 2005 was 544 and the number of registered sex offenders for every 100,000 people was 46, compared to 48 in Britain. There were 48 high risk sex offenders in Northern Ireland, 300 medium risk and 250 low risk.
In 2004-05, there were 1,686 recorded sexual offences in Northern Ireland, of which 347 were reported rapes.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie said there was "now a more objective and systematic way of gathering information about risk factors and a consistent method of sharing information between the relevant agencies". "Our goal is that everyone in Northern Ireland should feel that the arrangements we have in place are sound, will withstand inspection and have the best interests of the community, and in particular children and vulnerable people, at heart."
The committee has appointed a policy co-ordinator with substantial experience of sex offender risk assessment to manage its work. Ian Elliott of the NSPCC said the multi-agency approach offered the best possible protection to the public and in particular to children. "We feel that the agencies have worked hard to put in place robust arrangements in Northern Ireland which will be built upon by developing new arrangements to manage violent offenders," he said.