Private Members' Business. - Criminal Justice Bill, 1983: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

In my brief remarks last evening I referred to the mixed reception that has been given to this Bill. There are some who fear that the Bill is going too far down the road towards the erosion of civil liberties and basic human rights while there are those who believe that it is not going far enough. My opinion is that the Minister has struck a happy balance, that he has arrived at a happy blend, by on the one hand not acceding fully to the demands of the Garda and the various associations who were seeking increased powers for the Garda but giving in part what was sought while at the same time providing the safeguard that the Bill will not become operative until a complaints body has been set up. In this way the Minister is safeguarding the basic human rights and the civil liberties of citizens.

I compliment the Minister in that in the mere one year since becoming Minister for Justice, his career has been eventful and he has been a successful Minister. I can only express the hope that the coming years will be as successful for him in this very demanding portfolio.

As Deputies we have received various submissions from people who are concerned about the extra powers being given to the Garda. We had submissions from the Conference of Major Religious Superiors in Ireland which were signed by provincials of the major religious orders. We have had submissions also from the Irish Council of Civil Liberties and from other groups. It is only right and proper that responsible people who are apprehensive about any new legislation should make their views known to Members of the House and I congratulate all those who have made submissions in this instance. They have expressed views that are constructive and I am confident that the Minister will take note of those views and that if in his opinion there are any grounds for concern, appropriate amendments will be introduced on Committee Stage.

However, the main thrust and direction behind the Bill is not to infringe in any way on the basic human rights or civil liberties of the law-abiding citizen but rather to protect him and to apprehend those who would deprive him of his basic rights. Many of my colleagues on this side have outlined in detail the tribulations of older people living alone, and even of younger people who are afraid to walk the streets for fear of being molested or who cannot enjoy the pleasures of their homes for fear of being burgled or attacked. Therefore, law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear in so far as this legislation is concerned.

Perhaps the apprehension on the part of some people in this instance has an historical background. For too long the law-enforcing agencies in this country were arms of an alien power. For too long agents of the conqueror were in charge of implementing the law. There may be a little residue of that situation remaining in the minds of the Irish people. But they can be reassured in that since their inception the Garda Síochána have been made up of our kith and kin, of our neighbours' children. Indeed, any Deputy who has received representations recently from the fine young men and women wishing to join the Garda cannot but be impressed by the type of people, the flower of Irish manhood and Irish womanhood, who are anxious to don the blue uniform of the Garda. These people are products of our homes and of our educational system. I am confident that the motivation for their wishing to join the force is to serve the nation in a worthwhile capacity. It is my regret that many more of these excellent young aspirants cannot gain entry to the Garda. Perhaps I will be allowed to digress briefly on the question of candidates for the force. Some experienced Garda officers have been in touch with me and with other Deputies also and have expressed at least a little concern that since the Civil Service Commissioners are now in charge of the recruitment of gardaí, some of the successful applicants may not make the best Garda officers. I emphasise that that is the opinion of the Garda officers who have made these representations to us. In putting that viewpoint I do not wish to detract in any way from those who have been successful in the examinations and interviews conducted by the commission, but from personal knowledge I know that some very fine boys and girls have failed to gain entry to the force. I would be hoping for a situation in which there would be a second opinion in respect of candidates. If such a group was established there would be a flood of queries from unsuccessful applicants, but any outstanding men or women who have been turned down for no obvious reason should be given a second opportunity to gain entrance to the Garda Síochána.

I should like to record my personal regard for the members of the force for the amount of voluntary work they engaged in throughout the country, particularly in rural areas. Members of the force are involved in many social, cultural and charitable organisations. They give valuable help to the disabled and mentally retarded and give freely of their time to youth organisations. In short, they are a credit to the nation. I should like to compliment them on the splendid work they are engaged in on a voluntary basis. The gardaí stationed in remote areas also deserve credit.

We are all aware of the many musical thrills that the Garda Band, under the magic baton of Superintendent Tommie Boyle, have given us whether at concerts, international rugby matches or at festivals. This talented group of musicians and singers perform a tremendous public relations exercise for the Garda. They deserve our compliments. Unfortunately, for too long the Garda have been the butt of every type of verbal assault and are often described as being brutal and boorish, but the Garda Band has done a lot to change those views and enhance the public perception of the force. I hope the financial support to the band is not curtailed.

I should like to refer to the prowess of gardaí on the hurling and football fields, on basketball courts, in the boxing ring and in rowing clubs. They participate fully in our national sports and are great examples to our youth. I should like to pay a tribute to a constituent of mine, Ban Garda Brenda Hyland, the pride of Tipperary and this year's Rose of Tralee. She epitomises the standard of candidates for the Ban Gardaí by her charm, poise, personality and pleasing looks. Her success in the Rose of Tralee contest was remarkable.

Under what section of the Bill does this arise?

Jealousy will not get the Deputy anywhere. That member of the force deserves our congratulations because she is engaged in a tremendous public relations exercise. I am concerned to put the record of the gardaí in its proper perspective. If the occasion arises when the Garda should be complimented we should not neglect to do so. We should compliment them on any achievements that bring credit to the force and, indirectly, to the nation. I accept that some members of the force betray the trust placed in them, but that is only to be expected in an organisation of 11,500 men and women. Thankfully, fellow officers do not hesitate to prosecute such offenders in the courts. Members of the force who have appeared before the courts have been severely and harshly dealt with, and rightly so, for betraying the trust our people placed in them. I hope the decision to establish the new complaints body will mean that all gardaí will do everything possible to uphold the high standard of the force. I trust that those who infringe the code of conduct will be dealt with severely within their organisation.

The task of the gardaí is hazardous. In the report on crime for 1982 it is stated that wounding and other acts endangering the lives of gardaí increased by a massive 70 per cent, from 17 in 1981 to 29 in 1982. Gardaí never flinch in their duty and take great risks in the service of the nation. We can recall with pride that 24 members of the force gave their lives in the service of the nation and it is worth recalling that 202 members were awarded Scott medals. The House will be aware that this award was initiated by Colonel Walter Scott, the honorary commissioner of the New York City Police, in 1923. He presented a £1,000 gold bond and directed that the interest from it should pay for a gold medal. A condition attached to the award of the gold medal was that no action, however heroic, would merit the award of the medal unless it took the shape of an act of personal bravery performed intelligently in the execution of duty at risk to the life of the doer and with full previous knowledge of the risk involved. In 1925 Colonel Scott presented a 500 dollar bond for the award of silver and bronze medals. To date 58 gold, 79 silver and 65 bronze awards have been presented.

I should like to pay tribute to the older members of the force, those involved since 1922. They worked in difficult times following the birth of our nation and at a time when some Irish people did not accept them. However, by their integrity and commitment to duty they gradually gained the support of the Irish people. They do not owe their allegiance to any political party or Government and they have carried out their duties with the highest integrity at all times. The older members of the force have passed on a proud and noble tradition to the young gardaí.

I should like to deal with the causes of the increase in crime which have resulted in the necessity for this legislation. In my view we have experienced a spillover of the horrendous crimes being committed in the North by para-military groups. Already more than 2,000 people have lost their lives violently and more than 20,000 people injured in that small part of the country. I do not think there is any household there that has not suffered in some way or other from the violence. As a consequence of the violence North of the Border the quality of life in the South has been reduced and so have our values because of the continuation of violence which now has permeated the whole island, and the people are being conditioned to this violence.

I hope we will never regard life as cheap, that we will never accept the right of any para-military group to take innocent human lives. When such dastardly acts occur we should cry to the heavens to indicate our utter revulsion at those acts. Our sensibilities must not be dulled by these events, no matter how often they occur. We must make it known that those people do not act on our behalf. Unfortunately, the troubles in the North have had a spillover effect on us here and we see an increase here of violent crime.

Many members of the Garda Síochána are deployed on Border duty. This is very necessary but fruitless work. Their time should be spent investigating crime in the South, patrolling our major towns and villages.

TV films and plays have had a major impact on our acceptance of violence as the ordinary way of life. We all know that TV is a powerful medium because of its access to every household. People who would not dare to allow criminals or such characters into their houses are allowing even young children to view outrageous crimes being committed on films. I suggest that the Censorship Act of 1946 should be invoked to control this. I urge the Minister to have a serious look at that. There has been a horrifying growth in the spread of videos. I am amazed and horrified by the level of filth, indecency and obscenity that some of these videos portray. They are freely available throughout the country. I urge the Minister to update the Censorship Act to ensure that such films and videos will not be freely on sale here.

Unemployment has been given as a reason for increasing crime. The father going out to work in the morning has not been the practice in many households. As the level of unemployment reaches 200,000 we can expect a corresponding increase in crime. Idle hands will find work to do, especially among the youth who daily see on television all the things that they should be entitled to in a consumer society but which they are deprived of. They are being tempted to have those products by hook or by crook, unfortunately mostly by crookery.

There are other reasons for the increase in crime, such as poor social conditions, bad housing and bad environment. All these propel young people towards crime. Crime cannot be curbed by giving extended powers to the Garda in this or any other Bill. The whole social system must be revamped. We must try to solve growing unemployment among growing youth.

The Garda need specialised sophisticated equipment today to deal with sophisticated, educated criminals. If the Garda are to make any impact on criminals they must be properly equipped to do so. I suggest that members of the Garda should go on refresher courses every two years. They should be brought up-to-date with the most modern forms of crime detection. There should be exchange visits between them and their counterparts in Europe and in America so that they can all learn from each other in the job of apprehending criminals. What happens in America today will be happening here in six months because the world is very small, with television and other means of communication. Fads and styles of living in America and in Europe today will be here in a short time. Our Garda should learn from those. They should particularly learn about methods of detection and prevention used by other police forces.

Increasing crime is not a phenomenon peculiar to Ireland. It exists in America and throughout Europe, and if gardaí went on the type of exchange visits I have suggested they would learn something from their counterparts to help to apprehand criminals.

I am not glorifying in the introduction of repressive legislation. I sympathise with our young unemployed people who are caught in the crime web, but in fairness and justice we must protect the innocent from the criminals.

We have had references to the courts and to our prison system. One would be loath to interfere with the eminent members of the Judiciary. We should not try to restrict them in any way, but there seems to be an extraordinary lack of uniformity in sentences. We can cite instances of people being given 12 months imprisonment for poaching a salmon while somebody might be released on probation for attacking and half killing somebody. I know judges are only human like the rest of us and have their pet likes and dislikes, but I suggest that those learned gentlemen should meet occasionally and try to draw up a list of sentences that would give some semblance of uniformity. I appreciate that in some cases there are extenuating circumstances and that the background to each case is different, and in many cases a slight variance in sentencing would be acceptable, but the present system is something of a scandal which causes lack of trust or confidence in our courts.

In our prisons we should provide reform centres. Rather than being purely punitive we should be trying to rehabilitate offenders. The report on the prisons has just been issued. It makes worthwhile reading. It provides an insight into the enormous amount of good work that is being done by the prison authorities. Despite recent adverse publicity I think our prison system is a good one and, with the limited finances available, the personnel are doing a very good job and giving a very good service in very difficult circumstances.

There is need to establish a code of professional conduct. In the Bill in front of us we seem to be dictating to the gardaí what they should not do. Now that is a negative approach. We should rather encourage them to aspire to a higher code of professional conduct. Such a code should be established. The Council of Europe four years ago in 1979 in the Committee on Legal Affairs drew up a report on Document 4212 dealing with ethics and other things. Some are worth while mentioning. They would seem to be very opportune at the moment. No. 2 says the police should act with integrity, impartiality and dignity. In particular they shall refrain from and vigorously oppose all acts of corruption. They shall carry out all orders properly issued by their superiors. They shall refrain from carrying our any order they know or ought to know is unlawful.

There are many other practical directions in this regard to the police. There are 12 articles on the status of the police. The police officer shall receive internal training as well as appropriate instruction in social problems, human rights and, in particular, on the European Convention on Human Rights. A fourth article says that the professional, psychological and material conditions under which a police officer will perform his duties shall be such as to protect his integrity, impartiality and dignity. The Minister should have another look at this report. He should recommend it to the Government. I understand it has not yet been adopted so it is not yet binding on member states.

Article 16 refers to good relations between the police and the public as essential. No police force can do its work properly without the active moral and material support of those communities in which it performs its duties. I would recommend this to the Minister. I see no reason why we should not adopt it. I believe it would receive great acceptability on the part of the Garda Siochána because they would have a positive approach and it would give our police something to which to aspire rather than telling them not to do this and not to do that. Their powers are limited to a great degree and, if things were put clearly and intelligently, as they are in this worthwhile report, the gardaí would benefit and so would the citizens. It is a two-way system. Without the support of the public the work of the gardaí cannot be successful.

I want to refer now to the drug problem. I would like to compliment the drug squad on their success in combating this horrific crime. Drugs are on the increase especially among young people. Other Deputies have referred to the irreparable damage being done. I would not spare drug pushers. I would lock them up permanently. I would remove them from society so that they could not carry out their horrendous work. I congratulate the task force on their successes. I understand a committee is being set up and I wish it every success. We have some figures of the numbers charged with the illegal possession of drugs. The figure has risen from 1,500 in 1981 to 1,873 in 1982, an increase of 26 per cent. An alarming fact is the amount of heroin which has been seized. It has increased from 170 grammes in 1981 to 1,264 grammes in 1982. I would urge the Minister not to spare any expense in giving the task force every facility to enable them to bring drug pushers to book. Those who traffic in drugs deserve no sympathy whatsoever from anybody. The full resources of the Government and the Department should be readily available to the task force to enable them to expunge once and for all this horrible crime from our society.

I welcome the Bill. There is a happy balance in the Bill. The gardaí are given what is needed to enable them to apprehend criminals, the enemies of society, bring them to court, and to successful sentencing. Heretofore the habitual criminal has exploited the law and has virtually snapped his fingers at the gardaí and has often left the courts through what are described as technicalities. I hope the Bill will give the gardaí the powers they need to apprehend criminals. However, all the law on the Statute Book will not solve the problems unless the gardaí have the full co-operation of the public. I hope that when the commission is set up the serious worries of those who are concerned that civil liberties are being eroded in the Bill will be allayed and any doubts or suspicions in their minds will be removed. I wish the Bill a speedy passage, and once again I compliment the Minister on having the courage to bring it before the House. His immediate predecessor did not have the courage to do so. I believe this Bill will go down as one of the finest Bills passed by this House.

I want to say a few words on this very important and far reaching Bill. Contrary to what the last speaker feels I do not believe it will go down as one of the greatest Bills ever enacted here. I am a firm believer that any Criminal Justice Bill would of necessity be a diminution of our civil rights in one way or another. The very name of the Bill suggests that. In a perfect society there would not be any need for a Criminal Justice Bill. Society requires that we order our lives, but that is not to say that we should give such great welcome to any measure which limits what are the most basic and fundamental rights we have, our civil rights.

We must state quite clearly that this Bill goes down that road too far in some particular aspects of it. I believe, when it comes to the Committee Stage, that it will be a long and tortuous job before it finally reaches the Statute Book. This should happen if only to satisfy the general public that every single aspect of the Bill is teased out to its finality so that everybody is very clear that we are not putting something on the Statute Book which might very well work against our civil rights in the future. It is to be expected that we must limit our civil rights in the future. It is to be expected that we must limit our civil rights in times of great stress. It is interesting that the justification being made for this Bill is that the level of crime is now at an unacceptable level. That is agreed by all, and it is accepted that some measures must be taken to deal with this for the common good. The climate is right for this Bill.

I believe this Bill goes above politics in many ways. Any Minister for Justice who promoted legislation like this some years ago would have got very short shift and it would not have got an easy passage. When this Bill was first introduced I was quite taken back that a lot of the legal people and those one would normally expect to respond immediately did not do so. It is only very late in the debate that some inherent dangers in the Bill have been reflected on. It is only when they are reflected on that they recognise that this might not be the best vehicle which can be used in support of the Garda in dealing with what is now the unacceptable level of crime in the State. If the climate is right this should not lead us in any way to a false sense of security, in accepting legislative measures which would not in normal circumstances be accepted by the people. That climate should not be used to further a legislative programme that would interfere to quite a considerable degree with what we have come to recognise are our fundamental rights.

It would be preferable if all other avenues were tried repeatedly and proved to have failed before we resort to taking away any right no matter what form that might be. I believe there are measures which could have been contemplated before this Bill in its entirety was brought in. There are some aspects of the Bill which are long overdue, and they will have universal acceptance, but there are aspects of it which need to be questioned. It is no harm to mention some of them now. I may have an inate fear of this Bill which is ill-founded, and I would be glad to have that disposed of by the Minister.

I would like, before dealing with those matters, to deal with some of the measures which could have been taken and more recognition given to them before this Bill was brought before the House. The first and more essential thing, as far as the Garda are concerned, is that they must have the respect and co-operation of the public at large. It is easy for me to say that in the kind of constituency which I represent where the gardaí are very closely knit into the community. They usually hold very responsible positions outside their duties. They are respected and are very active in all aspects of community life, so we do not have the same crime problem in my constituency as the people have in other constituencies. At the same time it is just as important in the west of Ireland as it is in west Dublin or any other part of Dublin that we have the right kind of policing arrangements.

There is nothing new in saying that the most effective policing one can have is that they can be seen readily by the general public. There is some talk that more can be done in that area and that there would be a better response even in the cities if the gardaí could be better integrated into the society in which they work. If that involves extra gardaí, if it involves the development of gardaí from other areas, if it involves fewer gardaí in mobile units and more gardaí on foot patrols so be it. It is important that I should reflect the attitude of the people who sent me here. They would like the Minister to take the initiative in having more people put on foot patrol. It is not generally recognised that there is a close integration with community affairs by foot patrols in the large urban areas which they serve. I believe, until that formula has been experienced to its ultimate, we will not get the reduction in the type of crimes which take up most of the court time.

I believe another look should be taken at the question of police training. I do not believe that in this age of technological know-how that the short period which a Garda recruit spends in Templemore is sufficient to train him in all aspects of police work to deal with the modern criminal. Sufficient time is not given to training to enable him to do the job effectively. The Garda have not been provided with enough plant and equipment or enough training in new technology to enable them to do the job as well as they could do it with the manpower they have under their control. These areas should have been examined and improved upon before some of the things in this Bill were brought into this House. Provision of money for plant and improving the technology attached to Garda operations would be welcomed and it would not be resisted in this House. It would be granted in the sure knowledge that whatever money would be expended would be repaid not just in the relief of the mental and physical distress brought about by crime but in the amount of property that would be salvaged. The benefits from plant and equipment such as is made available to other police forces would be enormous. The training facilities for use of this equipment should be provided. It is not possible to do that in our limited training school situation, and in the time element involved the individual garda has not the capacity to assimilate that training. Whatever in-service training there is could very easily be improved upon. Other professions provide in-service training on a regular basis, not just once or twice in a lifetime but often once a year. The Garda should have an integrated programme for all ranks to do in-service training here and selected members of the force to do it abroad. The we would have an internationally integrated police force to deal with the crime situation that we have so often referred to in this House and outside.

We might not be getting the results that we demand from our detention centres, our jails. The arrangements are referred to very loosely by the general public as a bit of a laugh. Offenders go into prison for what some of them may have come to regard as a short holiday. The social stigma attached to a jail sentence has diminished considerably. It is sad that such should be the case, but it is so, and the recession may be one reason for it. Matters come to public notice about short circuits being taken by people who would never have dreamed of doing so formerly. Jail sentences are not viewed in the way they used to be viewed, and this factor will become more apparent as the years go by. When a judge after listening to a case passes a sentence in accordance with the law of three months or whatever it is the general public, the taxpayers, expect that the person will serve that sentence taking account of the normal remission for good behaviour. They expect us to make the arrangements necessary to enable sentences to be served. What percentage of crime committed by young people represents a repeat performance because there is not now the recognition that crime will be punished by the full penalty imposed by the law? Statistics relating to offences show that more than 50 per cent of offences are committed by people under 21 years of age. That shows disrespect for authority, but it shows something else.

A certain type of crime now is regarded as justifiable and will continue to be so perhaps because of a whole range of social problems. At the same time there are ways of dealing with it. If it could be established absolutely that a penalty given or a sentence passed by a court must be honoured and the debt to society paid in full except for remission, that would go a long way towards cutting out some of the second offences and would reduce the level of minor and juvenile crime. This is not being said flippantly. Doing a stretch in Mountjoy Prison, whether for a couple of hours, a day, the weekend or whatever, does not seem to have the desired deterrent effect on many young criminals. Maybe it is because the system there does not seem to impose the kind of rigours the general public expect from a detention system. If a centre was located in some other area and a proper work schedule was attached to the sentence, and if the in and out system that seems to exist in some of the biggest centres of detention did not operate, many young criminals might not be too happy to go back for a second trip. I am not talking about rough-neck tactics by the prison officers or anything like that. I am talking about the work patterns in some detention centres and it being mandatory on certain individuals to do a certain amount of physical work in a location not half a mile down the road from their native environment with all the to-ing and for-ing. It might very well reduce the number of people anxious to go back to cutting turf for a further three months.

More attention might be paid to the receivers of stolen goods who are known as fences. To take one offence, 80,000 or so burglaries took place last year. At that rate over a six year-period half a million houses would be affected. I have suffered from this. My home has been burgled six times in the last six months. They have got to the stage of not inflicting the same physical damage as they did before. Perhaps it is because the equipment I have there is no longer worth taking. The matter has come to that. Perhaps I do not take the necessary precautions with regard to expensive locks and alarm systems. It seems to me the same places have been robbed on several occasions. That has been proved in certain areas of the city, and now some people have decided to sell their detached private residences and live in apartments where they will have security all the time. It should not be so. We have reached the stage where the old person cannot feel he has a safe and secure home and the worker living in the suburbs cannot leave his or her home in the full knowledge that it will be in the same condition when he or she returns.

The question arises where is all the stuff going. It is fenced at a fraction of its value and it is moved on to be sold in other locations. I accept that much of the high value low-weight stuff may find its way out of our jurisdiction, but many items are obviously being sold in this jurisdiction. However, we do not hear on a continuing basis about people being brought before our courts, at least not often enough. Burglars cannot operate effectively unless they have some way of cashing in their spoils. Any reduction in the number of burglaries would be of enormous benefit. We have been told that many of the burglaries have been carried out by people who are in need of quick money to feed another habit. They are not concerned about going to another jurisdiction to sell the goods. They do not want to keep them on hands for long. They have to convert them into money quickly. They are carrying out the burglaries on the understanding that somebody is standing by who can off-load the material for them or they are acting under instructions of another kind. This aspect could be considered and it might lead to a reduction in the number of burglaries.

Some aspects of this Bill cause me concern. I dislike the principle of being detained without warrant on suspicion. I do not think I am saying any more than the Minister would say. This Bill is being forced on us and we should say that to the public. We have to accept it but surely we should at least write a timescale into it. If we could have avoided it we would not have this legislation. I do not like the permanent nature of some of the things being asked of us. It would have been to our advantage if some timescale had been written in so that we could consider the matter at another time when we would have mastered some of our present difficulties. Would it not be magnificent if, instead of having to bring in Bills dealing with criminal justice, we had a Bill restoring some of the things that have been taken from us? It is unfortunate that we are moving always in the one way. We should have a chance to restate the need for this legislation on a periodic basis.

It is said that detention can only become effective when the garda or the member in charge of the Garda station has reasonable grounds for believing an offence has been committed which is punishable by imprisonment of five years. I would have been much happier if the section stated that the member in charge of a Garda station had to have a senior rank rather than have a situation where, in smaller stations, it could be the most junior man just out of Templemore. I accept that that young officer will have had a certain amount of training and experience. I want it to be clearly recorded that anything I say is in no way reflecting on the gardaí. I want them to do the job for us so that we can say we do not need a Bill like this any more. I do not want it to work against the gardaí in subsequent cases taken against them under the complaints procedure the Minister is bringing forward. If the most junior man is in charge of the station at that time and a senior officer brings in a person who is being detained on suspicion, I do not see that junior officer telling the senior man that he does not see it as justifiable to detain the person concerned. The section should be amended in order to establish that a member of some seniority has to be present to confirm the detention in the first instance.

The Bill states that the detention will be for a period not exceeding six hours. I can see a reason for the six hours but I am not sure I can see a reason for an extension of a further six hours, even disregarding the rest period. As I understand it, in another jurisdiction on the other side of the water, over 90 per cent of confessions obtained in interrogation were got within four hours. If the necessary information cannot be got in six hours, I do not think it can be got at all. It leaves in my mind the uneasy suspicion that if the period were extended the resistance of the person being questioned might fade somewhat and, consequently, a confession might be got after a longer period but not for the right reason. If the statistic is accurate — I have got the relevant reference to put on the record of the House — that over 90 per cent of interrogations or questionings achieved the desired result one way or another within a shorter period, I should think it is asking too much to extend it for a further six hours. With eight hours in between as a rest period we are talking about 20 hours. That is too long.

While it is stated here that a rest period exists from 12 midnight until 8 a.m., there is provision for questioning to take place during that period. That is reasonable if reason prevails at all times on the part of persons involved in the questioning. There is no statement in this legislation that says that the questioning during the rest period, the instruction of the authorising officer having been received, cannot proceed for the full eight hours. There is a loophole here in that if the six hours elapsed at midnight and the necessary authorisation had been received, questioning could carry on for a further eight hours during the most difficult period in a day, twelve midnight to 8 a.m. I should be happy to hear that there is a formula whereby that cannot happen. I should like to be satisfied that the length of the interrogation in the rest period is very closely governed by some regulation in this legislation.

A person must be charged as soon as there is enough evidence to do so. It is normal to expect that that would be the case, but it might very well not be the practice. If a garda felt that carrying on the interrogation or questioning beyond the period where they could be normally expected to say that they had enough evidence to charge, the temptation to continue must be very strong, particularly if there is a considerable portion of the first six hour period left. It would be very difficult to implement a restraining influence. It would be natural to go on. I can see myself as a police officer in hot pursuit of information, having got the man to accept responsibility for a particular action and knowing that there was other information which might be extracted which could be of enormous benefit in that or subsequent issues, carrying on to the end of the six hour period. That will have to be very carefully monitored.

While we always expect the people will not be detained without good cause, what about the person who is brought in but against whom no charge is preferred? How soon after you let him out can he be retaken in for questioning? There is no provision here when it is decided, after questioning, that a case does not exist, that one hour later, perhaps when he is going out the door, he can be brought back in to start another six hour period of questioning. The Minister is shaking his head in the negative, and that pleases me greatly, because these are the questions which people are asking and it is very important——

The Chair thinks this might be done more appropriately on Committee Stage.

These are matters which are being talked about concerning the Bill and which affect much more than people's working lives. It is the provisions and the itemised things in the Bill which are causing concern. Crime is the cause of bringing this Bill forward and allowing it to be debated, but it is the provisions which people are questioning and it is only right that they should be referred to now.

The procedure on Committee Stage lends itself much more to teasing out section by section and getting answers to questions.

If I had my way I would make it mandatory on every TD to give his or her opinions on the Bill. There are many Bills where this is not necessary, but this is the most fundamental legislation to come before this House in this or any other year. While it is easy to take somebody in and detain them on suspicion, at the same time it is very difficult to restore a character when it is taken away. Character restitution will certainly not be covered in this Bill but, in a small community when somebody is detained on suspicion, even if they are not subsequently charged, the public unfortunately have virtually condemned them anyway. I do not know whether the complaints procedure will allow somebody who was detained on suspicion and subsequently not charged to get back his or her reputation. Is there a formula being provided by the Minister to do so? I have yet to hear details of his complaints procedure, but I think a safeguard like that should be obligatory. If somebody is wrongly charged he should not suffer in person or in reputation subsequent to the detention.

I am sure the whole question of photographs and fingerprints has been referred to by many Deputies. Whatever procedure the Minister devises for guaranteeing the destruction of these documents when the time is right he will have to make it absolutely clear to this House what that procedure is. This is not a reflection on the Garda Síochána, but any police force worth its salt depends to an enormous degree on its records and investigations. There is no doubt that the records which would be provided by having a file on every single citizen in this State would be of enormous benefit to the police. That should not be necessary in a democracy but, as it would be of such value, the temptation must be extraordinarily strong for the police force to commit much of this valuable information to the records for further reference. With regard to photographs and fingerprinting, there will have to be a guaranteed process which can be monitored to everybody's satisfaction, including the gardaí so that they will not subsequently be the subject of actions and that these documents if necessary to follow on in the proceedings of subsequent charges, will be maintained properly and, when it is time for them to be destroyed, that it will be done and that complete destruction will take place.

I congratulate the Minister on the provisions in sections 9 to 11 on the question of bail. He will have my support and I am sure the full support of this House for something that has been in need of reform for a long time. I expect that sections 13, 14 and 15 will be welcomed also but I am not so sure about section 16, which I take to be the inference section. The totality of what might be applied in the interpretation of this section is not crystal clear in the Bill. It is ambiguous and, consequently, should not be put on the Statute Book. I shall not go into all the possibilities under this section except to say that the mental state of people detained, even if only on suspicion, is often totally different from what it would be outside of a Garda questioning room. There is no room for ambiguity either in what is inferred there or what might subsequently be of considerable damage to an accused. Therefore, I expect that there will be a good deal of difficulty with that section at Committee Stage.

There have been references to such phrases as "ordinary language" and "it may not be taken" and so on, but this phraseology is ambiguous. There is no clear statement of intent as to what the situation will be in any given set of circumstances. If I am involved at Committee Stage I shall be giving instances of where that provision goes too far.

We all expected to have had some details of the complaints procedure the Minister will be bringing in in support of this legislation, a procedure which no doubt he will be introducing in good faith, but asking the House to deal with this legislation and to pass the Bill without the details of the safeguards being known to us is tantamount to asking a soldier to walk blindfolded through a minefield. This legislation should be amended, but even amended it must not be implemented in this democracy until the safeguards are spelled out not only in the interest of the individual who will be the subject matter of these new regulations but in the interest of the Garda. It is paramount that we protect the Garda from the possibility of losing the respect that has been built up for them during a long period. They do not wish to be left in such a vulnerable position. While they may not understand fully yet the total implications of the legislation we are discussing, quite a number of gardaí realise that there are difficulties involved and that it will be virtually impossible in certain circumstances to implement some of the proposed provisions without actions being brought against them subsequently.

There are many measures in this Bill that are needed. They are necessary because of the climate being as it is and for that reason only, but there are some elements of the Bill which to my way of thinking do not guarantee the rights of the individual.

I welcome this Bill and I compliment the Minister on its introduction. The deficiencies in the present system have long been apparent, and it seems that the scales of justice are weighted in favour of the criminal. At least, that is the public perception of the situation, and we are talking of a public who are long suffering, who are not safe either in their homes or on the streets.

Successive Ministers have been aware of the need for this Bill, but I am very pleased that the present Minister on being given the Justice portfolio applied the powers of positive thinking which resulted in the Bill being before us.

I represent the constituency of Dublin Central, and that is the most deprived area in the country. This is a fact that is accepted by every Member of the House who campaigned in the recent by-election. It is accepted that 60 per cent of all crime committed in the country is committed in the City of Dublin. I suggest that the lion's share of that could be attributed to Dublin Central and particularly to the inner city, which is an area of great deprivation and one that has been designated down through the years. It is an area that has all the ingredients to qualify it for the reputation it has acquired.

In the report of the Garda Commissioner which was published last month we find that there was an increase of 9.2 per cent in the crime figures compared with the figures for the previous year. When one considers the lifestyle that most of the citizens of Dublin have had to contend with in recent years, the prospect of a continuing increase in the rate of crime must be horrifying. The extent of the continuing involvement of young people in criminal activity is particularly worrying. Approximately one-third of all persons apprehended for criminal offences are under the age of 17. This is a problem that must be tackled vigorously and with determination. The vast majority of the public are not prepared to accept that this growth in the level to criminal activity is inevitable. The enforcement of the law is essential if we are to have a civilised society.

I have been surprised in recent years by what appears to be the failure of the State to take appropriate steps to counter the violence and the general disorder that is increasingly apparent in our society. Repeatedly, the reaction appears to be short-term and negative, with a concentration on more jail sentences, on detention for young people involved in violence, in fencing in brawling football fans, in masked gardaí with improved riot gear and so on. I am not querying these measures, but my point is that of themselves they are not sufficient.

They do not reach the heart of the difficulty, which is long term and rooted in the absence from the minds and hearts of so many today of the values that must be there if our citizens are to enjoy a civilised existence. As a man is so shall he act. He is shaped by the values that are instilled in the family, the home and the school, in the formative years and, later, by the values of the society in which he lives. The problem has to be tackled there with the parents as the primary educators. No amount of Garda numbers or additional equipment will cure the ills of our society today if we do not have the climate that will produce the type of citizens who are law abiding. To say that the Garda can do that is tantamount to suggesting that one can hold back the tide with one hand.

What continues to astonish me is the failure on the part of those with responsibility for maintaining standards to recognise this fact. The feminist movement in their frantic efforts to liberate the women of Ireland have had their greatest measure of success in undermining and frustrating the majority of mothers who were devoting their time to raising the nation's children. The permissive, increasing anti-authority society of today is not unrelated to this fact. Successive Governments have failed to recognise and support Article 41.2 of the constitution, which states:

In particular, the State recognises that by her life with the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.

In the course of his speech the Minister said that crime, and its consequences, in one form or another, cast a shadow over much of our social life today and force us to reassess many of our traditional values and attitudes. He also said that the question about the causes of crime remains unresolved. He added:

For instance, in what sense can poverty be said to be a cause of crime when in fact the great majority of poor people are never in trouble with the law? Yet it is clear that poverty, unemployment and poor social conditions generally are factors that play an important part.

Can it be denied that we, the elected representatives, have an obligation to show real concern for our society which is now almost bereft of any hope of employment for our young people. What is the perception of those unemployed young people when they learn that many of those who receive adequate salaries as elected representatives are also taking from this impoverished State large pensions for past services rendered? Surely it is a case of the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer. Inherent in that are all the ingredients for real trouble. The effect on our young population of 14 years of savagery and barbarism by all sides in Northern Ireland, committed in the name of the Irish people, must have had an impact also on the crime levels. We have had to suffer an economic burden with £250 million being spent on crime related services, money which could have been better spent on creating jobs for our young people.

The Minister told us that the purpose of the Bill was to give some new powers to the Garda Síochána to enable them investigate crime more effectively and to amend and update certain aspects of criminal law and procedure for the better administration of justice. In the course of a statement issued yesterday the Incorporated Law Society welcomed some of the proposals in the Bill such as majority verdicts, the abolition of unsworn statements, notification of alibi defences and the proposal in relation to bail. However, they express reservations on some aspects of the Bill which they felt could lead to a serious invasion of the rights of innocent citizens. The Justice Commission of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors were concerned about aspects of the Bill. In the course of their statement they accepted that the Garda needed more effective powers to deal with professional criminals involved in serious offences. The Bill proposes to meet these needs. It gives massive general powers to the Garda which may be used on petty offenders, juveniles and innocent people who happen to be in the vicinity of an illegal occurrence. Those who are aware of the conditions that exist in the inner city know of the validity of that concern. That group maintain that the use of these powers in a wider context would not reduce crime but create a destructive gap between the people and the Garda.

In many areas of the inner city some of these proposals may trigger off a reaction which may increase and not diminish crime. It is essential that in those areas we have good community relations between the gardaí and local people. I was heartened to hear the Minister say that Dublin born recruits will be posted to Dublin stations. That is a step in the right direction, because those who have grown up in the city and suburbs have a better chance of coming to terms with the problems of Dublin. There is nothing more pathetic than to see a young recruit from a rural background who does not know one street from another in the city trying to maintain law and order. I had occasion to call on one of those young gardaí to chase a handbag snatcher but, of course, the criminal was able to run rings around the young policeman.

While appreciating that it is difficult to give the Garda powers for one purpose in such a way that they are not automatically available for another purpose I suggest that the Bill is strong in giving powers but weak in providing safeguards. Section 3 (2) enables a garda with reasonable cause to detain a suspected person for a considerable period of time. My fear about that provision is that the type of people they will be likely to come across in my constituency will be young, inarticulate and defenceless people. They may be tough eggs but they would not be in a position to make their case or to know how to go about doing that. That concerns me. It should be necessary for a garda to state the reasonable cause to the suspected person and to the station sergeant or the garda in charge of the station. A station sergeant should have the legal obligation of accepting responsibility for the garda's decision to detain for reasonable cause. If the garda's view of reasonable grounds was unsound the station sergeant could cancel the detention immediately. The abolition of the right to silence in section 15 gives extraordinary powers to gardaí. After a theft any person with anything in their hands or pockets may be asked to give an explanation for possessing them. Further, if a garda believes he has reasonable grounds for making an inquiry, if he believes an explanation is misleading, he can detain a person.

In the inner city areas of Dublin, in Dublin Central in particular, this section will have the effect of creating mutual suspicion in the basic relationship between innocent people and the Garda, and this could trigger off a further reaction that could result in increased crime rather than the reverse. We must see to it that young people who do not commit crimes will have trust and confidence in the Garda. Therefore, I suggest that this section should be restricted in its application to those who have been convicted already for precisely the type of crime they are being questioned about.

The Bill covers a wide variety of offences such as misdemeanours, petty theft and shoplifting, and though I share the concern at the escalation of serious crime, the application of the section to minor offences will lead only to escalation of crime in these areas. The section could be used against persons not involved in crime but who simply live in areas with a high crime rate. Any person in such areas found in possession of property or money is liable to be detained by a garda, who does not have to inform that person the reason for his suspicion, and the person can be held for six hours at least. Indeed such a person could be detained repeatedly on successive days for investigation of different crimes that may have occurred in his neighbourhood and about which he may have known nothing. The extension of police powers without in-built compulsory safeguards will only lead to further deterioration of community-Garda relations.

Questioning during detention should be electronically recorded. Questioning should be restricted to the offence of which the person is suspected. The Bill should not become law until electronic recording devices have been provided. The Minister has told us that the limit of six hours will apply no matter how many offences are being investigated concurrently. He has said that if there is any doubt he will amend the Bill on Committee Stage. The Minister is concerned about our serious crime situation, and he is to be complimented on his attitude in regard to the Bill. He has allowed wide discussion on it, and I have no doubt he will take account of the comments made by Deputies and that on Committee Stage he will make any amendments necessary.

I welcome the special provision to cover people under 17 years of age. It will be necessary to have parents or guardians notified immediately when such young people are taken into custody. Unfortunately many such young people are guilty of crimes, such as joyriders who are responsible for the taking of the lives of innocent citizens. They must be made to understand that all the necessary powers will be used to put a stop to this activity. I share the desire of every Deputy to return a state of law and order to our society.

This Bill will serve the purpose for which it is designed, that is, to update our criminal law so that people who break the law can be brought to justice. We have had archaic criminal laws, and evidence of this abounds. Ordinary people are denied their basic right to freedom and civil liberty because of the almost complete breakdown of law and order. The serious consequences of this are that under present legislation law enforcement has become almost impossible. Those of us who have regular contact with the Garda are aware of their total frustration, having to operate under the framework of present legislation. Gardaí have informed me that because of the present law they find it is not worth their while to pursue criminals because of the end result.

The element of professionalism in criminals today has come about because of the out-of-date laws under which we operate. We hear of cases in which criminals taunt the gardaí and can get the better of the police force. Aristotle wrote "Justice is the supreme virtue of the good State", but I am afraid this can hardly be said here because of the hundreds of criminals who are free to terrorise ordinary people but who, in existing conditions, are not brought to justice. This Bill is designed so that such people will be brought to justice, and I therefore welcome the Bill. It provides a proper framework within which the gardaí can operate. It can be effective in establishing the guilt or innocence of suspects.

Law abiding citizens need not have any fear of this legislation, but criminals had better take note. I would go so far as to say that our present criminal law is an incentive to crime because criminals know they hold all the aces. Therefore, this legislation will act as a deterrent because the freedom to continue to commit crime and to escape punishment will be curtailed severely.

I am not so naive as to believe that this Bill will solve the problem of lawlessness and vandalism and the more serious problem of organised crime which has become prevalent here in recent years. The Minister should now tackle the other areas which contribute to this situation, such as improving Garda resources, putting the emphasis on crime prevention, increasing the amount and type of prison accommodation, tackling the growing under-privilege which exists in certain sections of our society which, because of their neglect are the breeding grounds of crime and vandalism. The Bill, however, will improve the efforts of the gardaí in crime detection, which I understand is now as low as 33 per cent. I believe that the Bill, therefore, will be successful.

I am surprised at the reservations and objections expressed by many people on both sides of the House because of what they term the dangers to civil liberty. There will, undoubtedly, be a restriction on the freedom and rights of individuals taken in for questioning by the gardaí, but I have full confidence in the Garda force that this restriction will not become a denial of individual rights and freedom. I have great praise for our Garda force, who are a much maligned force in our society. I believe the problems in relation to crime in the community now are not the fault of the Garda. I put the blame fairly and squarely at the door of politicians who have allowed the kind of legislation under which the gardaí have to work to continue until 1983. When one talks to gardaí it is frightening to hear of their experiences in trying to enforce the law under the conditions they have had to work in recent times. I have heard about a number of cases in Galway city where fairly young people with criminal records were brought into the Garda station to be interrogated and they sat and looked for the two hours or whatever period they were kept there at a spot on the wall and left the gardaí there, thus ensuring that because of their right to silence they cannot be questioned and interrogated. Since I became a Deputy I have discussed the crime problem in Dublin with members of the Garda. It must be very frustrating for them to bring a suspect before the courts, have the person charged and when he is allowed out on bail, he taunts the gardaí by committing the same crime and inviting them to watch while he is committing that crime. That is the state which crime and lawlessness have reached.

The primary objective of everybody in the House must be to combat crime. That is the reason I have been very surprised at the amount of criticism there has been of aspects of this Bill, which I am quite satisfied will never take away from people's right to freedom, their civil liberty, in anything like the same way as the right to freedom and the civil liberty of thousands of people in this city and throughout the country is being taken by the people who commit crime. I give the Minister my full support for this Bill but I feel there are some aspects of it which need to be looked at more carefully. The sad aspect of this Bill coming in now is that it took until 1983 before we got around to updating our criminal legislation and bringing it into line with other countries in Europe.

The opposition to certain sections of the Bill by many lawyers and solicitors, as well as the Law Society, should be viewed cautiously. Quite obviously the opposition to certain sections of the Bill by many of those lawyers and solicitors is because of their vested interest in the type of legislation under which they operate. While I acknowledge the professional ethics of all members of the legal profession the fact that they have been content with such an archaic legal system up to now leaves me in no doubt that they are not the best people to pronounce on the legislative changes which are necessary to meet the changing needs of society. I suppose it is natural where the rules favour the clients of those lawyers and solicitors that they will not be anxious to change or oppose those rules. The blatant inadequacies of so much of our legislation in this area is a reflection on the legal profession who have been prepared to accept and go along with this type of legislation. My feeling about the opposition from many lawyers and solicitors is to take it lightly, because they have benefited from the type of legislation they work under. We have repeatedly seen in cases of serious crime in recent years that the people who are really being interrogated and cross-examined, when it comes to court cases, are not the people who are suspected of committing crime but the gardaí who have brought them there. We are all aware of cases where big time criminals have been able to engage top lawyers and solicitors and we have seen gardaí, who would not be expected to have the grasp of legislation which they would need to face the kind of questioning they receive in our courts from those people, being cross-examined. We see the gardaí interrogated so that those top class lawyers can, hopefully, get their clients free on a technicality. Those lawyers and solicitors, who are now crying wolf at the introduction of this Bill, will have to concentrate their energies much more on finding the loopholes which up to this were too easy to find and which in so many cases have curtailed the role of justice.

I believe this Bill can only be good. Like Deputy Flynn I feel that the day will come before very long when we find it is not necessary to continue with the type of proposals which are contained in this Bill. The situation is now so bad that that day is a long way off. I am very concerned about views which have been brought forward by people such as the Irish Council of Civil Liberties, which run contrary to this Bill. I would like to quote one particular sentence from a submission they made to us. They say:

In effect these measures would transfer a very large part of the administration of justice out of the courts and into the police stations.

I believe that type of statement, which is so wide of the situation, is leading many people to question this legislation. All this Bill is doing is giving the gardaí an opportunity to ascertain if a person is guilty or innocent so that they can proceed from there to the courts. The gardaí will have to give evidence of their conclusions when they go to court.

Up to now the Garda have not been able to bring suspects so far because of the framework of legislation under which they operate.

Debate adjourned.