Belfast Telegraph

Quarter of Northern Ireland's sex offenders living in south and east Belfast

By Adrian Rutherford

A quarter of Northern Ireland's sex offenders are living in south and east Belfast, it has been revealed.

Justice Minister David Ford said 1,080 convicted offenders are being monitored across Northern Ireland.

The total includes 254 in the PSNI's B District, which comprises east Belfast and the university heartland of south Belfast.

It is believed the ease of access to low-budget rented accommodation is one reason for the high number of offenders in the student area.

The figures were released following an Assembly question from Jonathan Craig. The DUP MLA said he was concerned by the high number of sex offenders in society.

"I wanted to see the number of sex offenders given the high level of sexual crime uncovered around young people," he said.

"It is remarkable that we have 1,080 across the province, although I do realise a lot of them will be low level offenders and under supervision.

"However, it always makes people uneasy to learn that such a quantity is native to their area."

According to figures released by Mr Ford, south and east Belfast have the highest number of sex offenders.

That is significantly higher than the other half of the city, with 102 offenders in the north and west.

Another 138 live in the PSNI's G District, which takes in Foyle, Limavady, Magherafelt and Strabane, while 136 are resident in E District – Armagh, Craigavon, Newry and Banbridge.

Mr Craig said the density of offenders in south and east Belfast required appropriate supervision from the authorities.

"I am surprised that a quarter live there," he added.

"I would hope that it (the high student population) is one of the factors taken into consideration by the Probation Board when it looks at where these people are living."

Responding to Mr Craig's question, the Justice Minister said a series of measures were in place to monitor sex offenders.

"Sex offenders are subject to a variety of measures to reduce the risk of reoffending," Mr Ford said. "Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 places a statutory requirement on certain sex offenders to notify personal information to the police.

"This information is provided in the interests of the prevention or investigation of crime and the protection of the public.

"Offenders may also be subject to probation supervision of licence conditions or court orders on release from prison.

"Sex offender prevention orders are also available to the courts to place necessary restrictions on offenders' behaviour to prevent harm to the public."

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