The management of sexual offenders in the community in Northern Ireland

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

The aim of this research, using documents and records-based research, statistical information and interviews with key personnel, is to evaluate the management of sexual offenders in the community in Northern Ireland. More specifically, this involves a critical examination of responses to sexual offending, the registration of sexual offenders and the placement of sexual offenders in the community within a framework of a community-integrated approach between the statutory, voluntary and community sectors in Northern Ireland. Sexual offending is clearly on the political agenda. In the last few years we have witnessed the enactment of a plethora of legislation pertaining to sexual offenders or sexual offending in response to media and public outcry. Attention, in particular, has been focused on the need to ‘track’ predatory paedophiles who have been released from prison into the community. However, offenders who are known to the authorities represent the mere ‘tip of the iceberg’ since a large number of sexual offences go unreported or unrecorded by the police. In the case of child sexual offences, this is usually because the majority of offences are committed by a family member or someone known to the child. Thus, criminal justice initiatives aimed at managing released sexual offenders in the community can have limited impact on the real extent of the problem of child sexual abuse. In this respect, the thesis will explore whether more effective partnerships between the statutory, voluntary and community sectors may offer a more progressive, and ultimately more effective means of protecting the public than previous situational attempts to control known released sexual offenders through, for example, sex offender registration, electronic tagging and restrictions on the movement of sexual offenders in public areas via sex offender orders. The theoretical backdrop to such a future response to the management of sexual offenders in the community in Northern Ireland comprises the concepts of restorative justice and reintegrative shaming. Key practical elements must include a major public education and awareness programme to promote social inclusion and increase society’s understanding of the nature of sexual offenders and sexual offending. This could then be followed by the development of community treatment and support programmes for offenders.
Date of AwardDec 2002
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorSean Doran (Supervisor) & Kieran McEvoy (Supervisor)

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