Thursday, 17 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Report and Final Stages
This was discussed on Committee Stage and the Minister was opposed to it. There is a difference which has to be taken on board in the Department. From memory, I think it was discussed on Committee Stage that one single image could exist of a person and that would be seen as a minor offence, whereas more images would be more serious and dealt with at the more serious stage in terms of the Circuit Court and stuff like that. One image can have a huge negative impact and that is the problem. The 1851 Act is probably not appropriate at this stage in relation to this because we are dealing with the Internet, digital images and stuff like that. Images can be around for a long time. It might be only one image and investigators will look at it and say it is only one image so it is not as serious and should be a summary offence rather than indictable offence. Then they will say it is only one image and the timeframe has passed, so it does not matter anyway. However, the impact on the victim will still be as great and that is the main factor that should drive us. For that reason, it is important and should be included in the Bill.