Sex Offender Registration: Implications and Difficulties for Ireland

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to explore the implications and difficulties of a system of sex offender registration for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. From the orthodox perspective, registration appears justified. Sexual offending has increased and this is used by the media to generate a ‘moral panic’. However, sexual offenders in the community have also been socially constructed in Ireland, as a problem requiring specific action, through Blumer’s (1971) developmental perspective. It is this perspective which most adequately explains the formulation of the legislation. Arguments expounded in favour of registration include the supposedly high recidivism among sex offenders, the inadequacy of supervision provisions and the resulting need to ‘track’ the offender for public protection. Yet, in practice there are a plethora of obstacles such as cost and inadequate policing resources, not considered at the time the legislation was being formulated, which may impede its effectiveness in aiding law enforcement and reduce it to symbolic significance only. Given these difficulties, it is argued that registration is not an appropriate response to the problem of released sexual offenders in Ireland. Rather, from the social constructionist perspective, it is suggested that it is better to ‘treat’ the sex offender through less formal and stringent means in the community away from the criminal justice process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-102
Number of pages28
JournalIrish Journal Of Sociology
Volume10 9Special Issue on Crime and Policing)
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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