Written answers

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Department of Justice and Equality

Proposed Legislation

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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181. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 4 of 10 September 2020, the progress to date in publishing the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill 2018; when it will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28805/21]

Photo of Hildegarde NaughtonHildegarde Naughton (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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As the Deputy is aware, the General Scheme of the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill was developed by my Department following a comprehensive review of current law and administrative practice.

The General Scheme was approved by Government in June 2018 and it is available on my Department’s website.

The Bill is currently with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and a fourth draft was received as recently as the 17 April.

I wish to assure the Deputy that officials in my Department and that Office are working closely together to finalise drafting with a view to publication of the Bill as soon as possible.

The purpose of the Bill is to enhance current systems for the assessment and management of convicted sex offenders and to put those systems on a statutory footing.

While the drafting process is not yet complete, I expect the main provisions to include:

- Stricter notification requirements, including requiring offenders to notify Gardaí of their address upon release from custody, or any subsequent change of address, within 3 days as opposed to the existing 7 days.

- Provision to allow for fingerprinting and photographing the offender, where necessary to confirm their identity.

- Enhanced supervision of high-risk offenders, including, in limited circumstances, the electronic monitoring of offenders subject to post-release supervision orders.

- The placing on a legislative footing of assessment teams to assess and manage the risk posed by sex offenders.

- Provisions whereby a court can prohibit a sex offender from working with children.

- Provision for a statutory basis for the necessary disclosure of information relating to a high-risk offender on the ‘sex offenders register’. The information in relation to an offender which may be disclosed include the name, address and threat posed by the offender. There is a need for balance in these measures and therefore it is intended that the disclosure could be made to the minimum number of people necessary to avert a serious risk to safety.

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