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Enactment Of Legislation To Strengthen Monitoring Of Sex Offenders Welcomed.

Plan to operationalise use of electronic tagging for offenders to be in place by end of the year.

Minister for Justice Simon Harris TD has yesterday welcomed the signing into law of the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Act 2023, by President Michael D. Higgins.

Electronic Tagging

This Act will strengthen the management and monitoring of sex offenders in the community, including a number of amendments to the sex offenders register notification requirements, as well as providing for electronic tagging and for an explicit prohibition on convicted sex offenders, working with children or vulnerable people.

It is the Minister’s intention that the Act will be commenced later this year. The Department of Justice is liaising with An Garda Síochána, the Probation Service and other relevant Departments and Agencies to prepare for commencement of the Act.

In addition, Justice Plan 2023, published by Minister Harris this week, commits to establishing a working group with key stakeholders to produce a plan by year end to operationalise the use of electronic tagging.

Welcoming the enactment of the legislation today, Minister Harris said: “I welcome the enactment of the Sex Offenders Amendment Act, meeting a key commitment under our Justice Plan and Programme for Government. It is one of the key reforms to help us build stronger, safer communities.
I understand the concerns that communities can have about sex offenders and the protection of public safety, and I am confident this legislation will help to alleviate those concerns.
The primary aim of this legislation is to improve the management and monitoring of sex offenders in the community to protect the public, including through the use of electronic tagging.
Combatting all forms of domestic, sexual and gender-based is a priority for me and this Government, and this is reflected in a range of policies and legislation that we will continue to progress under the Zero Tolerance strategy on domestic, sexual and gender based violence.
One of my priority focuses as Minister for Justice is making the criminal justice system more victim centred, and this Act contains significant measures to help in this work.”

The main provisions of the Act:

  • Change the sex offenders register notification requirements for sex offenders, including a reduction of the notification period from seven to three days.
  • Explicitly provide for the court to prohibit a sex offender from working with children and vulnerable adults.
  • Provide powers to the Garda Síochána to take fingerprints, palm-prints and photographs to confirm the identity of the person.
  • Create a legislative basis for the assessment and management of risk posed by sex offenders across teams involving probation officers, Gardaí and Tusla.
  • Allow the Garda Síochána to disclose information relating to persons on the sex offender register, in extenuating circumstances (for example, where there is a serious threat to public safety).
  • Allow the Garda Síochána to apply for the discharge and variation of a sex offender order.
  • Allow for electronic monitoring of sex offenders to assist in ensuring an offender’s compliance with a sex offender order or post release supervision order.

The Act will reduce, from 7 days, the period in which sex-offenders must inform Gardaí :-

  1. of their name and address within 3 days of leaving prison.
  2. of any change to their name or address within 3 days.
  3. if they are going to be outside the State for more than 3 days.
  4. if they are returning to the State having been outside it for 3 days.
  5. if they are at an address in the State for 3 days and that address has not been notified to AGS.
  6. sex offenders must notify every 12 months if they had not had need to notify within the previous 12 months.

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