Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
358. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to review the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 with a view to broadening the range of convictions which can be considered as spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4303/20]
The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 came into force four years ago. As the Deputy will appreciate, there was extensive consultation and scrutiny both within the Oireachtas and with other stakeholders in the period before enactment of the Act. The Bill, as it was then, was amended several times as it progressed through the Houses of the Oireachtas, and these amendments considerably expanded the scope of the Bill to the extent that it was estimated at the time that approximately 80 to 85% of all criminal convictions would become spent after 7 years.
However, all legislation is kept under review and I am conscious of the case for keeping the application and scope of this Act under review.
My Department is continuing work on identifying and assessing the possible implications of the recommendations of the October 2019 report of the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality on spent convictions. My Department will also continue to carefully consider the effectiveness and balance of the Act, so that the fairest possible outcomes can be achieved for the public.
In that regard, the Deputy may be aware that the Government did not oppose a Private Members Bill on this subject at Committee Stage in the Seanad in November 2019. The Criminal Justice (Rehabilitative Periods) Bill 2018 proposed to amend and considerably extend the 2016 Act and the implications of any such changes would require careful analysis and consideration. Whether that Bill will be reintroduced is a matter for the incoming Government to decide.