Criminal Justice (Commission of Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2017: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the law in relation to sentencing in certain respects, to add certain sexual offences to Schedule 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007 and to provide for related matters.

I propose the Criminal Justice (Commission of Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2017 to the House to address the situation whereby convicted sex offenders have gone on and committed further and more serious crimes. This Bill seeks to amend the Criminal Justice Act 2007 by extending section 25 to a number of sexual offences, whereby the convicted sex offender who was previously convicted for either the same or other scheduled offence must serve at least three quarters of the maximum sentence for the further offence. This Bill is aimed at the serial sex offender who ignores all rehabilitation efforts and remains a constant public danger and a menace to men, women and children in society.

This issue was raised with me some time ago by a constituent of mine, who suffered the severe trauma of being raped at the age of 19. Her attacker was later jailed for six years. However, he went on to sexually assault for three more women. He was jailed for a period of eight years after being charged with false imprisonment, assault and making threats to kill a woman. These offences made worse the original victim's emotional well-being, which continues to be affected to this day. There are other well-known cases of serial sex offenders and repeat offences in this country, where the offenders have made no effort to change their ways.

The effects of rape and other serious sexual offences on the communities and the victims are well-documented. Serious sexual crimes do not only impose emotional and physical trauma upon the victims.

Such offences attack the unity and stability of society as a whole. They clear away the protection that society offers to all its citizens. If we allow serial sex offenders continue unchecked by going on and committing similar and more serious crimes without imposing a longer sentence for the subsequent offence, then society as a whole is devalued.

Numerous studies have shown that repeat sex offenders are arrested at a far higher rate than one-time offenders from the general population. Therefore, society must be protected from repeat offenders whose behaviour has a direct impact on public safety and the well-being of society as a whole. Figures also show that only a small number of sex offenders released from Irish jails undertook treatment programmes. Gardaí are also monitoring at any one time some 100 sex offenders who remain a threat to society.

Repeat offending by sex offenders is an affront to any democratic society that seeks to protect its citizens. It reflects the offender's determination not to abide by society's laws and regulations and the failure of the criminal justice system to deal with the offender. We must show our support to these victims who have suffered at the hands of serial sex offenders in a meaningful way.

I commend this Bill to the House.

Is the Bill opposed?

Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.