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Guiney, Ciara (2017) Joint strategy on the management of offenders. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 60, Winter 2017 , pp. 7-8.

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On 22 September 2016, the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD launched the first Joint Strategy for the Management of Offenders.1 The strategy, which builds on existing collaborative work between the Irish Prison Service (IPS), the Probation Service (PS) and An Garda Síochána (AGS), highlights two areas, namely the management of offenders along with a strong focus on the rights of victims. What follows is an outline of the main objectives and accompanying actions to go forward between 2016 and 2018.

 

More integrated management

It was announced that the Joint Agency Response to Crime (JARC) would be extended into three more areas: Dundalk, Waterford City and Limerick City. JARC will be evaluated to inform future developments and an online platform E-JARC will be developed to support communication between agencies. Engagement by the IPS, the PS and AGS with the Courts Service will aim to produce shared information technology.

 

Multi-agency response to management of sex offenders

The Department of Justice and Equality intends to have the Sex Offender Risk Assessment and Management (SORAM) model ratified legally. SORAM will then be officially launched via a national conference. The research findings of the initial pilot will inform how SORAM will be implemented nationally. In collaboration with the housing sector, the problem of finding accommodation for high-risk sex offenders will also be addressed. Future explorations will examine the viability of expanding the SORAM model to include other offences.

 

Sharing good interagency information

The intention is to explore other opportunities for sharing information among agencies:

  • AGS will provide ‘précis of evidence’ nationwide (p. 4) to assist preparation of pre-sanction reports.
  • Protocols will be agreed by the IPS and PS regarding confidentiality on the sharing of pre-sanction assessment reports.
  • Agreements will be made by AGS with PS and IPS to allow Gardaí access to information on offenders who are on probation and in prison.
  • Agencies will ensure that information is shared regarding prisoners who are unlawfully at large. 

Creating more efficient system of implementing court orders

The PS and AGS will be responsible for outlining a course of action to deal with cases not meeting the terms of court orders and warrants issued as a result of non-cooperation. A system will be created to keep a record of warrants issued and how they can be retrieved and implemented.

 

Addressing consequences of domestic violence in communities

In order to deal with domestic violence, the aim is to develop stronger ties, common language and understanding between AGS, the IPS and PS. This will include the use of warning systems, joint training, and exchanging information on how to assess and manage offenders. Agencies will continue to work with Tusla to detect and manage child protection cases and with COSC (the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence) to help support intervention programmes for offenders of domestic violence.

 

Benefits of joint training at operational and management levels

It is proposed that training exchanges will be developed between AGS, PS and IPS. Joint training will be undertaken by these agencies in areas such as domestic violence, management of sex offenders, and awareness of radicalisation to violent extremism.

 

Reintegration and community management of vulnerable offenders

The IPS and PS will continue to develop the reintegration of vulnerable prisoners and the Irish Prison Service / Central Mental Hospital Court diversion programmes. These agencies will also work with the Health Service Executive to enhance existing practice protocols.

 

Advancing NorthSouth cooperation

The intention is to continue the sharing of information between agencies in Northern Ireland and the Republic. In addition, agencies will attend the annual Public Protection Advisory Group seminar to share information with the view to improving current practice.

 

Protecting victims of crime and upholding their rights

The PS, IPS, AGS and Department of Justice and Equality will attend a specially convened meeting that aims to develop a unified approach to working with victims of crime. A close working relationship between agencies will ensure that obligations under the EU Victims Directive are met. The Victim Service teams of these agencies will collaborate and develop suitable codes of behaviour for responding to the rights and needs of victims.

 

Minister Fitzgerald welcomed ‘the commitment in the strategy of all three agencies to work together to address the serious consequences of domestic violence in our community; this heinous crime in our community can only be reduced with the dedicated focus outlined in the strategy’.2

 

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1    Department of Justice and Equality (2016) Joint strategy on the management of offenders 2016‒2018. Dublin: Department of Justice and Equality. Available online at http://www.garda.ie/Documents/User/Joint%20Strategy%20on%20the%20Management%20of%20Offenders.pdf

2    Department of Justice and Equality (2016) Tánaiste launches Joint Strategy on the Management of Offenders and announces the extension of Joint Agency (JARC) initiative to Dundalk, Limerick city and Waterford city. Available online at http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Extension-of-Joint-Agency-J-ARC-initiative

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