Written answers

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Department of Justice and Equality

Departmental Policies

Photo of Carol NolanCarol Nolan (Laois-Offaly, Independent)
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162. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will introduce legislation to enable a pilot scheme for the mandatory polygraph testing of high-risk sex offenders as has been introduced in the greater Manchester area of the United Kingdom; if her Department has given any consideration to such a scheme prior to now; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [59624/21]

Photo of Helen McEnteeHelen McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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Last month I announced planned new legislation to strengthen the management and monitoring of sex offenders in the community. The Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill 2021 includes a number of amendments to the sex offenders register notification requirements, including a prohibition on convicted sex offenders engaging in certain forms of employment. 

The main features of the Bill are:

- to change the sex offenders register notification requirements for sex offenders, including a reduction of the notification period from seven to three days;

- to explicitly provide for the court to prohibit a sex offender from working with children and vulnerable adults;

- to provide powers to the Garda Síochána to take fingerprints, palm-prints and photographs to confirm the identity of the person;

- to create a legislative basis for the assessment and management of risk posed by sex offenders across teams involving probation officers, Gardaí and Tusla;

- to allow the Garda Síochána to disclose information relating to persons on the sex offender register, in extenuating circumstances (for example, where thereis a serious threat to public safety);

- to allow the Garda Síochána to apply for the discharge and variation of a sex offender order;

- to 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 Bill fulfils commitments in Justice Plan 2021 and in the Programme for Government to update the Sex Offenders Act 2001 to ensure that convicted sex offenders are effectively managed and monitored, and the publication of the Bill is an action in the Second National Strategy for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

It is my intention that this Bill will be enacted in the coming months.

A public consultation process formed an integral part of my Department’s review of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 and informed the development of the proposals in the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill. In that context, the High Level Group which produced and published a discussion document on the management of convicted sex offenders was not in favour of the use of polygraphs for monitoring/risk assessment purposes as views in other countries were divided on the practice. The group also had concerns of a practical and legal nature.

Consequently, polygraph testing is not included in the current proposals.  However, the matter will be kept under review in the light of experience of the implementation of such measures in the UK.


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