Violent Offender Watchdog Set Up

A new multi-agency team has been set up in Northern Ireland to monitor the most dangerous sexual and violent offenders after they are released from prison.

The 13-strong team includes police, the probation service and social services.

Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins said the changes were in response to some high profile cases of re-offending by dangerous criminals.

“This is another initiative to strengthen the way we reduce the risk from serious offenders,” he said.

He said the changes would make it easier to track potentially dangerous people and make it easier for the PSNI and Garda to find offenders who move over the border.

“I think the legislation really does reflect that increased public concern to make sure people are kept out of the community where it is necessary and also managed effectively when in the community,” he said.

“Of course these tragic cases people know about do concentrate the mind.”

The specialist team will operate on a full-time basis out of the police station at Donegall Pass in Belfast and be under the overall direction of Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland.

There are currently 12 of the most serious category three sex offenders living in the community under management. Mr McCausland said he anticipated the numbers would rise to about 60 when violent offenders and new releases are added to the list.

He revealed that last week he signed a memo of understanding with the Garda in the Republic of Ireland to exchange information and were potentially looking to link their databases to improve information sharing.