Only 6% of those in prison for sex offences are taking part in the state’s programme to reduce the risk of re-offending, Gript can reveal.

More than 75% of sex offenders in Irish prisons are not considered for inclusion in the programme.

Figures provided by Minister Charlie Flanagan show that the “Building Better Lives” programme, which has operated in Irish prisons since 2009, and is based on international best practice, excludes 75% of offenders on the basis that they are “not suitable”, for reasons including “denial, lack of motivation, insufficient time in sentence, an ongoing appeal, or the complexity of the case”.

In fact, out of approximately 450 individuals in custody for sex offences, only 31 took part in the programme in 2018, and 37 in 2017, not accounting for three inmates who dropped out of the programme over the two years.

The criteria for participation in the Building Better Lives programme include: a prison sentence longer than 18 months to provide time to complete the programme, “full admission of the offence and harm caused to the victim, robustness of personality to withstand the challenge of the group,”

The aim of the programme is “to reduce the risk of re-offending and enhance public protection to the greatest possible extent.”

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) 82% of recorded victims of sexual violence in 2018 were females, while 18% of victims were males.

63% of victims (1,754 victims) who reported sexual violence crimes to An Garda Síochána in 2018 reported offences which are recorded as having taken place less than one year prior to the reporting of the crime.

The remaining 37% of victims (1,017 victims) reported offences which occurred more than one year prior to their reporting to An Garda Síochána, and the gap between the reporting date and the date of occurrence of the crime showed considerable variation.

Despite the total of 2,771 reported sex offences, only 450 people were in prison for such offences, and many of these would have been convicted years earlier, suggesting that a remarkably small number of reported offences result in a conviction and custodial sentence.

The Irish Prison service has said that it has “engaged with an international expert in relation to the ongoing challenges faced in the treatment and management of categorical deniers.”

Cold comfort.