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Ireland: Centre swamped by child sex cases

Publish Date: 03 Dec 2003

Source: Irish Times.
Source: Financial Times Information Limited - Europe Intelligence Wire.

THE IRISH TIMES: The State's only non-government-funded centre for treating sex offenders is currently being 'swamped' by referrals of sex offenders engaged in child pornography, a conference was told yesterday.

Addressing the 34th annual Psychological Society Of Ireland conference in Bunratty, Co Clare, senior clinical psychologist with the Dublin-based Granada Institute, Dr Patrick Randall, said: 'We are currently being swamped with Internet child sexual abuse and contact child sexual cases.'

Outlining the changing demands on the institute since 1995, Dr Randall said that when it was first opened, the institute treated a lot of clerics where a lot of the abuse was historical and the abusers were at low risk of reoffending. He said that the centre has also treated a lot of lay people, while now there is a huge increase in Internet child sex abuse among the people referred to the centre.

Noting that offenders are now getting treatment earlier, Dr Randall said: 'We need to invest more energy and more resources in dealing with family members of men who abuse children.' He also pointed out that there is an increase in non-custodial sentences for sex offenders.

In his address, director of the Granada Institute Dr Patrick Walsh said that reoffending among sex offenders is lower than those who commit general criminal offences. This, he claimed, contradicts some of the worst fears about sex offenders.

He said: 'People who commit sex offences tend to have, at the worst estimation, 40 per cent of recidivism, whereas general criminal offences tend to have much-higher rates of reoffending.'

Dr Walsh said that those who sexually abuse children have lower recidivism rates than adult rapists. In a whole range of studies, treatment of sex abusers reduced reoffending rates from 30 per cent to less than 10 per cent.

Dr Walsh pointed to a recent German study of 225 sex offenders which he said is in line with the experience of the Granada Institute.

The study, which concerned itself with offenders that received no treatment, found that 22 per cent of sex offenders reoffended within six years.

The study also found that 25 per cent of sex offenders who had no relationship with the victim reoffended, while overall one-third without treatment reoffended.

However, Dr Walsh said that sex offenders 'do not change their behaviour unless they have to'.

He said: 'It is important that someone with a behaviour pattern where they have abused children need a crisis to stop. They need to be caught and they need to be brought out and confronted with that.'