Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, T.D., publishes the General Scheme of the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill
Key provisions deal with enhanced post-release supervision of sex offenders
6 June 2018
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charlie Flanagan, T.D., today (Wednesday) announced the publication of the General Scheme of the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill after Cabinet approved his legislative proposals.
This significant legislation will introduce a number of amendments to the notification requirements (“sex offenders register”) under Sex Offenders Act 2001.
Minister Flanagan said:
“I am pleased that the Cabinet today approved my proposals to publish the General Scheme of the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill. The draft legislation contains valuable provisions to assist in the management of serious sexual offenders upon their release. These proposed changes arise from a review of the management of sex offenders under that Act.”
Some significant proposals in the General Scheme of the new Bill are:
stricter notification requirements which reduce the period in which offenders must notify Gardaí of their address upon release from custody, or any subsequent change of address, to 3 days;
provisions to allow for fingerprinting and photographing the offender, where necessary to confirm their identity; and,
the provision of a statutory basis for the necessary disclosure of information relating to an offender. Under the proposed legislation, the name, address and threat posed by the offender may be disclosed in certain circumstances.
The General Scheme also places the current systems for the assessment and management of convicted sex offenders on a statutory footing.
Minister Flanagan added:
“The main intention of these proposals is to manage the risk posed by convicted sex offenders and to prevent further harm. The safety of communities is of paramount importance, and An Garda Síochána and the Probation Service each play a vital role in ensuring that every effort is made to rehabilitate offenders and that communities can be confident that any risks are properly managed.”
The General Scheme also provides for a legal basis for electronic monitoring post-release of sex offenders. Minister Denis Naughten, who has long supported the introduction of such legislation, stated:
“Providing courts with the option of mandating electronic monitoring in high risk cases is something I have long advocated for, and indeed, ensured was included in the Programme for Government. I am delighted to see the inclusion of this measure in the General Scheme of this important Bill.”
The General Scheme will now be published and submitted to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality for pre-legislative scrutiny.
Notes for Editors
General Scheme to the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill
The main provisions of the Bill include:
- Stricter notification requirements such as requiring offenders to notify Gardaí of their address upon release from custody, or any subsequent change of address, within 3 days as opposed to the existing 7 days;
- Provisions to allow for fingerprinting and photographing the offender, where necessary to confirm their identity; and,
- Enhanced supervision of high-risk offenders, including, in limited circumstances, the electronic monitoring of offenders subject to post-release supervision orders;
- The placing on a legislative footing of assessment teams to assess and manage the risk posed by sex offenders.
- Provisions whereby a court can prohibit a sex offender from working with children, and;
- Provision for a statutory basis for the necessary disclosure of information relating to an offender on the ‘sex offenders register’. The information which may be disclosed relating to an offender concerns the name, address and threat posed by the offender and the disclosure shall only be made to the minimum number of people necessary to avert any risk.
The amendments to the Sex Offenders Act 2001 were originally included in the General Scheme of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill. However, it was necessary to update these provisions on foot of legal advices and to reflect the operational practice and requirements of An Garda Síochána and the Probation Service who have primary responsibility for the management and monitoring of sex offenders post release.