Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charlie Flanagan, T.D. announces Government approval for publication of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018
Minister of State Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran T.D., sponsor of the original PM bill, welcomes progress and proposals for presumptive minimum sentences for repeat sexual offenders.
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charlie Flanagan, T.D. today announced that the Government has approved the publication of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018, which will now be debated in Dáil Éireann.
The new Bill will extend and strengthen existing criminal law on sexual offences through the introduction of presumptive minimum sentences for repeat sexual offenders.
Announcing the Cabinet decision to approve the publication of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill, Minister Flanagan said:
“Sexual offences are among the most serious crimes faced by our society, and the effect on victims is devastating. This Bill forms part of a Government commitment to strengthen the law in this area through the introduction of stronger sentencing provisions.”
Minister of State Kevin 'Boxer' Moran introduced proposals around stricter sentencing for repeat sex offenders in a Private Members Bill last year, which were taken forward by the Government. He welcomed today’s Cabinet decision and said:
“I am very pleased to see the publication of this Bill. I have very serious concerns around repeat sexual offenders and I am confident that this Bill will help to address these concerns by introducing stricter penalties for repeat offenders.”
Minister Flanagan continued:
“Sentencing is one aspect of our overall approach to sexual offenders. Treatment in prison is also very important and the Irish Prison Service Psychology Service in conjunction with the Probation Service provide for treatment of sex offenders in prison to help address their offending behaviour.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018
The main purposes of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill are to:
- Introduce stricter penalties for repeat sexual offenders
- Equalise the maximum penalties for incest at 10 years for both male and female offenders.
The revised penalties for repeat sexual offenders are based on proposals brought forward by Minister of State Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran last year which were contained in the Criminal Justice (Commission of Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2017.
The Bill provides that where an offender is convicted of a sexual offence listed in a new Schedule to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 and is sentenced to imprisonment for a period of at least 5 years and is subsequently – within a period of 10 years – convicted of a further offence listed in the new Schedule, the court shall, when imposing sentence for that offence, specify the minimum term of imprisonment to be served by the person.
The minimum period of imprisonment proposed is three quarters of the maximum term of imprisonment prescribed by law in respect of such an offence and, where the maximum term is life imprisonment, the minimum proposed is a term of not less than 10 years imprisonment. However, the court will have discretion not to apply the minimum sentence if it is satisfied that this would be disproportionate in all the circumstances of the case.
While in prison, a convicted sex offender can avail of relevant treatment to address their offending behaviour. The treatment of sex offenders is centred in Arbour Hill Prison and Midlands Prison where the Building Better Lives (BBL) programme is delivered by the Irish Prison Service Psychology Service in conjunction with the Probation Service, Other prison-based therapeutic interventions may include one-to-one interventions where appropriate.
The Probation Service engages with sex offenders throughout the course of their sentence. This work primarily focuses on reducing the risk posed by the individual following release. The Probation Service is also responsible for the Post Release Supervision Orders for sex offenders where the court has sanctioned supervision of offenders after their custodial sentence. The Probation Services uses a suite of services and programmes for the assessment, management and supervision of such offenders in the community.
The Bill also contains amendments to the Punishment of Incest Act 1908 in order to equalise the penalty for incest at 10 years imprisonment for offences by both males and females.
The Bill will be introduced to the Dáil in the Autumn.