Tougher laws from Minster McEntee to manage and monitor sex offenders come into effect today

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Rules around sex with offenders register significantly tightened Courts able to specifically prohibit offenders from working with children Gardaí will be able to disclose information on sex offenders in certain circumstances

Dublin, Meraj Abid – Tougher laws to manage and monitor sex offenders in the community come into effect today, Monday November 13.The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD has today commenced the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Act 2023.

The Sex Offenders (Amendment) Act 2023 changes the notification requirements (“sex offenders register”) for sex offenders, provides for the court to prohibit a sex offender from working with children, and allows An Garda Síochána to disclose information relating to persons on the sex offender register where there is a serious risk to the public.

Minister McEntee said:

“These tough new laws will help us build stronger, safer communities and will strengthen our already robust system for monitoring sex offenders. The new laws wil help alleviate understandable concerns which communities can have about sex offenders and the protection of public safety and our citizens.

“For example, it introduces stricter notification requirements, and gives powers to the court to explicitly prohibit convicted sex offenders from working with children or vulnerable people.

“This legislation gives An Garda Síochána and the Probation Service the tools to ensure sex offenders are managed effectively, striking an appropriate balance between monitoring and restricting offenders while also supporting them in their rehabilitation.

“Tackling domestic, sexual and gender based violence and supporting victims of crime are priorities for me and my Department.“I also want to reform the criminal justice system to make it more victim-centred, and this Act contains significant measures to help in that work.”

The Act reduces, from seven to three days, the period for sex-offenders to inform Gardaí –
of their name and address within three days of leaving prison;
of any change to their name or address within three days;
if they are going to be outside the State for more than three days;
if they are returning to the State having been outside it for three days;
if they are at an address in the State for three days and that address has not been notified to AGS;
or every 12 months if they had not notified within the previous 12 months

Minister of State James Browne said:

“We fully understand that communities have concerns about the release of sex offenders and while we do have strong monitoring provisions already in place, the stricter oversight and management requirements this important piece of legislation introduces, will provide extra reassurance. It introduces significantly stricter notification requirements for offenders, will allow for electronic monitoring in certain circumstances and will explicitly prohibit convicted sex offenders from working with children or vulnerable people.

“This legislation underlies the government’s shared commitment to keeping everyone in our communities, and in particular women and children, safe from sexual violence. “

Other provisions include providing powers to the Garda Síochána to take fingerprints, palm-prints and photographs to confirm the identity of the person.

In extenuating circumstances – for example, where there is a serious threat to public safety – it allows for An Garda Síochána to disclose information relating to persons on the sex offender register.

It also places the current Sex Offenders Risk and Assessment and Management (SORAM) monitoring process for sex offenders on a statutory footing.

Meanwhile, a working group has been established to develop a draft plan to inform an approach to operationalising electronic monitoring of offenders.

The group is chaired by the Department of Justice and comprises representatives of the Courts Service, the Probation Service, the Irish Prison Service and An Garda Síochána. Its aim is to devise a pilot study and it is currently mapping out the operational matters for consideration which will be finalised by the end of this year.

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