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NZ: Support for chemical castration

Publish Date: 11 Jul 2011
Source: The Dominion Post

SENSITIVE ISSUE: Justin Barry-Walsh, who says chemical castration could be beneficial for sex offenders. Photo: CRAIG SIMCOX/Dominion Post

Wellington doctor backs use on sex offenders

Capital & Coast District Health Board forensic consultant psychiatrist Justin Barry-Walsh believes there are sex offenders who could benefit from the use of chemical castration.

Related story: Chemical castration doesn't always work

"I've now got the green light to look at whether we can develop a service, a network to provide so-called chemical castration as part of sexual offending treatment programmes."

Though there was currently a small number of people in the community receiving the chemical castration medication, there was no centralised system and little research in the area, Dr Barry-Walsh said. Only one prisoner was taking the medication.

"One offender is certainly far too few - it should be a lot more. It's effective and if only one prisoner in New Zealand is receiving it at the moment then that's something that needs to be looked at.

"The research says it will work as well as psychological treatment if you target the right individuals.

"The ones that remain on it find that it's helpful. I have one guy on my caseload who is on [the drug] and he's very happy to take it. He tolerates the side effects well and he tells me that it's doing its job . . .

"We also treat people with intellectual disabilities and it sometimes has a role within that group if they have a history of sexual offending."

The medication, which came in a tablet form, was not expensive, with a daily dose costing about $20 to $60 a month, he said.

Participants' compliance with the medication could be checked by a simple blood test. "These medications aren't cures, but they can be effective and very helpful."

He thought the drug would probably be used on three types of sex offenders.

"First, those people that have a lot of sexual fantasy which they find disturbing and distressing and they want that dealt with.

"Second is the group that are at risk, that are willing to consent to the medication and that aren't likely to do well in therapy.

"The third group are those at high risk of offending, who are willing to take it short-term while they engage in therapy as well."

During the coming year, he is planning to visit several countries, including Australia, where the drugs are used as part of sex-offender treatments.

Copyright © 2011 Fairfax New Zealand Limited