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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 5 Oct 2000

Vol. 523 No. 3

Written Answers. - Sex Offenders Register.


59 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a statement in relation to the compilation of a register of sex offenders; the likely date when the register will be in operation; if he will consider further amendments to the operation of this new register to include past offenders; the total number of places available in Arbour Hill to treat sex offenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19430/00]

The Sex Offenders Bill, 2000, provides for a package of measures aimed at protecting the public, in particular children, from sexual abuse or attack. The main provision of the Bill will be the creation of a sex offenders register, or tracking system as it is also known. The Bill has passed Second Stage in the Dáil and I hope the remaining Stages will be passed to allow the register to come into operation before the end of the year.

The registration or notification obligation will cover all those who, on or after commencement of the Act, are convicted or found guilty but insane of a sexual offence specified in the Schedule to the Bill and those who are, on commencement, still in contact with the criminal justice system, whether awaiting sentence, in prison, subject to supervision, serving a community service order or detained in the Central Mental Hospital. Further retrospection would be impossible without compromising the accuracy of the records; it would simply not be possible to trace all those offenders no longer in contact with the criminal justice system. The issue of retrospectivity is dealt with in the Bill in the following way. If such a person were to act in such a way as to pose a risk of serious harm to the public, the gardaí could apply to the court under Part III of the Bill for a sex offender order and the making of such an order, apart from the other consequences of the order, would automatically make the person liable to the notification requirement.
The Bill's enactment will ensure that the Garda Síochána will have up to date information on the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders. This in itself should act as a deterrent to reoffending and so contribute towards their rehabilitation. In addition, the availability of up to date data will be of particular benefit to the gardaí in the investigation and prevention of sexual crimes.
The sex offenders group treatment programme in Arbour Hill Prison is delivered by officers of the probation and welfare and psychology services of my Department. It can cater for up to ten offenders at one time and takes ten to 11 months to complete. All convicted sex offenders, regardless of the institution in which they are held, are invited to apply for inclusion in this programmes.
Question No. 60 taken with Question No. 40.