The Inspector of Prisons has urged that the sex offenders' programme centred on Arbour Hill Prison in Dublin should be extended into the wider community.

Judge Michael Reilly said the Building Better Lives programme would operate at its most efficient if prisoners who had completed it got ongoing assistance and monitoring following their release.

The Inspector of Prisons made his recommendation in the course of his report on Arbour Hill Prison, half of whose 154 inmates are sex offenders.

Over the past three years, 105 prisoners have participated in the Republic's only sex offenders' treatment programme, which is centred in the institution.

According to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, 71 have completed the Building Better Lives programme, while another 24 are participating in it.

But the Inspector of Prisons said the programme would operate at its most efficient if prisoners who had completed it got ongoing assistance and monitoring following their release.

In his report on Arbour Hill, Judge Reilly said it should be possible to harness the goodwill of appropriately trained people in the community to assist in the reintegration of such prisoners into wider society.

He said the trained personnel could operate under the guidance of the Psychology Service in the prison and in conjunction with the Probation Service.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said this evening that the current internal prison treatment programme forms an integral part of the wider range of interventions by criminal justice and community-based agencies.