Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Probation Judgments and Decisions) Bill 2018: Second Stage

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

While the Bill is quite technical, it has a simple purpose. Its aim is to facilitate a person who is under the supervision of the probation service in one EU member state but lives in another to return home and continue his or her supervision there. The purpose of a probation order is to prevent reoffending through offender rehabilitation.

A key part of rehabilitation is reintegration into the community and this is very challenging if the person is away from his or her home, family and community. This Bill will create the legal framework to facilitate the return of a person to his or her home country while ensuring the necessary probation supervision continues and that the legal consequences for failing to engage with that supervision can be enforced if necessary.

The Bill applies to individuals who commit an offence while temporarily in another member state, perhaps on holidays or working or studying abroad. For example, if a person living in Ireland goes on holiday to another member state and commits an offence for which the court in that member state imposes a community service order, that person would have to stay in that state, potentially for months, to carry out the community service. He or she could be away from his or her family and perhaps lose a job and accommodation. The consequences could be quite significant for the sentenced person. Under this Bill, that person could have the community service order transferred to Ireland. The person could return to the State, carry on working and living with family and carry out the community service under the supervision of the Irish Probation Service. If he or she failed to comply with the community service order, the Probation Service could enforce the order through the Irish courts so the community protection element is there too.

The Bill also provides for probation orders or community service orders imposed by the Irish courts on individuals who are not resident in the State to transfer to that person's home state if the person wishes to return home. An example would be a member state student studying in Ireland over the summer who commits an offence for which one year's probation is imposed. Under the provisions of this Bill, that order could be transferred to the person's member state to allow him or her to return home and continue studies while still undergoing the necessary probation supervision to divert him or her from further offending. A probation decision may only be transferred under the Bill where the person has moved or wants to move back to his or her home state. The Bill cannot be used to remove a person from one state to another if he or she does not wish to go. The benefits for the individual are obvious and this is likely to encourage compliance will the probation decision.

In addition to probation and community service orders, the Bill also applies to other types of probation supervision, some of which can arise in respect of more serious offending. These include suspended sentences, conditional release from prison and post-release supervision orders. This Bill allows for the transfer of serious offenders who may have served a lengthy prison sentence and are subject to several years of post-release supervision into and out of the State. This is perhaps an even more important aspect of the measure as rehabilitation is so important in such cases. Having somewhere to live and family support will assist such offenders reintegrate into society and reduce the risk of reoffending. Ultimately, communities are safer when probation is successful.

I now propose to outline in more detail the content of the Bill, which contains 32 sections and largely reflects the European Union framework decision. Part 1 of the Bill contains a number of general provisions, including provisions on commencement, interpretation, the application of the Bill, expenses and a power to make regulations. Section 4 specifies that the courts and the Minister for Justice and Equality will be designated as the competent authorities for the purposes of the framework decision. Part 2 establishes the rules and procedures that will apply where Ireland is the state that issues the probation judgment. Section 10 provides that a request to forward a probation judgment to another member state may be initiated by either the director of the Probation Service or the person who is the subject of the probation decision. Section 11 provides that a probation judgment may only be forwarded to the member state where the person habitually resides, with the person's consent and when any appeal process has been completed. The Minister is not obliged to transfer a judgment to another member state. In limited circumstances, a judgment may be forwarded to a member state other than that in which the person resides with the consent of that state.

Sections 12 and 14 make provision for information flows between the State and the member state in which the person normally resides, including the penalties that will be available if the person fails to comply with the probation conditions and any adaptations of the judgment that the other member state intends to make. Section 13 provides for the transfer of responsibility for the supervision of the person to the other member state and section 15 provides for the circumstances in which the State may seek to have the person returned to the State, for example to face further charges. Part 3 establishes the rules and procedures to apply where Ireland is the state executing the judgment, that is where the person subject to a probation order is coming into Ireland to have their probation supervised in this State.

Sections 17 to 19 define a number of important terms in the Part and set out the types of probation measures that the State may recognise and supervise under the Bill. Sections 20 and 22 address a number of procedural steps which may be taken where documentation received is incomplete or sent to the wrong place. These sections also establish evidential rules. Section 21 permits the Minister to accept a request for transfer of a person who is not normally resident in the State but is an Irish citizen or has close ties to the State.

Sections 23 and 24 establish the procedure for accepting or refusing a request to transfer a sentenced person into the State. The court is obliged to endorse the judgment unless specified grounds for refusal are present. Grounds for refusal include incomplete documentation, immunity, specialist treatment not being available, lack of consent and the judgment falling outside the scope of the framework decision. If the court endorses the judgment, section 28 provides that the Minister must recognise it and take the necessary steps to begin supervision of the person.

Sections 25 and 30 make specific provision for judgments relating to a suspended sentence or conditional release to ensure that such judgments correspond with the comparable provisions in national law and comply with the requirements of the framework decision. Sections 26 to 29 establish certain procedures that must be followed in respect of a judgment transferring into the State and section 31 provides that a person may not appeal the original judgment in the executing state. Section 32 provides that responsibility for the judgment and the supervision of the person will transfer back to the issuing state if the person absconds or is prosecuted for another offence in that state.

As I previously mentioned, this is lengthy and technical legislation but its aims are straightforward. This Bill establishes a system to return non-resident offenders subject to probation measures to their home country. It does this in order to support rehabilitation and ensure the necessary enforcement options are available to local authorities to safeguard the public. I know that Members of this House are aware of the valuable work with offenders carried out by our Probation Service. The Probation Service has been actively involved in preparing the proposals in this Bill and has the structures in place to begin operating the new procedures without delay. It is difficult to estimate the number of people who may wish to transfer their probation supervision under a measure such as this but it is not likely to be very great. However, for those individuals who find themselves abroad, away from family and community supports, it will be a valuable tool to support rehabilitation and reintegration with the ultimate goal of providing safer communities. I commend the Bill to the House and I hope Deputies will support it.

I propose to share time with Deputy Mary Butler.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

Fianna Fáil supports this important legislation which will considerably ease the difficult circumstances in which Irish people can find themselves abroad, and that European Union citizens can find themselves in if convicted of an offence in Ireland. As the Minister of State indicates, the purpose of the legislation is to ensure that if a person from another European Union member state receives a probation order or community service order in Ireland, that citizen will be able to spend that time in the other member state under the operation of its probation service or community order sanctions. Similarly, an Irish citizen convicted in a European country and given a probation order or community service order could have that dealt with in Ireland as opposed to abroad. It makes sense.

When I first read about the legislation we are discussing, I wanted to consider the similar legislation dealing with individuals convicted of offences and serving terms of imprisonment. As I am sure the Minister of State knows, on the same day this decision was signed, 27 November 2008, another Council framework decision was also signed, namely, Council Framework Decision 2008/909/JHA. Unfortunately, Ireland has not implemented that decision, which relates to the principle of mutual recognition of judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences or measures involving deprivation of liberty for the purpose of their enforcement in the European Union. A statement was made by the European Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Ms Jourová, on 4 January in response to a question submitted in respect of whether Ireland had implemented this decision. She stated that following the end of the transitional period on 30 November 2014, member states were requested to notify formally their transposition measures before 15 May 2015 but Ireland did not comply with this obligation within the required time. She indicated that based on the information provided subsequently by Ireland, the Commission is currently analysing the matter with a view to an infringement procedure against Ireland pursuant to Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

It is clearly a matter of deep concern that we have been so delayed in implementing the legislation before the House. It is a matter of even greater concern that there is another Council decision out there concerning people who are imprisoned in member states of the European Union that has not been implemented in Irish law. The Minister and the Government must explain the reason for this delay and steps must be taken to ensure the Council decision can be implemented into Irish law as soon as possible.

Having said that, it is important to implement the decision we are discussing on the mutual recognition of judgments on probation decisions with a view to the supervision of probation measures and alternative sanctions. The Minister might agree that anybody involved with the criminal justice area will recognise that we should be very slow to put persons into prison. Prisons should be places for persons who are a physical threat and danger to members of society, people convicted of offences or those who have applied for bail and been previously convicted of offences.

They are the individuals who should be occupying places in prison to ensure society is protected from violent individuals. Aside from that, we should try to ensure that persons who are not a physical or sexual threat to others are not in prison. This is why it is so important for courts to recognise that when it comes to sentencing, so many more opportunities are available to them than merely incarcerating a person convicted of an offence. It is important to note that in respect of a probation order, if a judge in the District Court has found that the facts of the case against the offender have been proved but does not proceed to a guilty finding, he or she can make a probation order. This puts an offender under the supervision of a probation officer for a period of up to three years and is not a recorded conviction.

Probation should be used as much as possible if it is appropriate in the District Court. We have a very effective Probation Service. The purpose of a probation order made in the District Court is to try to ensure that a person who comes before a court, probably for the first time, does not continue on a path of criminality. The benefit of a probation order is that a person is given a chance and told that he or she will be put on probation and that it will have the effect that he or she will not have a conviction. Obviously, a probation order in a higher court, be it the Circuit Court or High Court where it can sometimes apply, is recorded as a conviction. Let there be no doubt about the benefit of a probation order in the District Court. Its objective and benefit involve trying to divert someone, generally a young person, from a path of crime. We saw recently how important it is to have a juvenile diversion scheme in place. Unfortunately, it does not seem to have been operating to its 100% potential, as we saw from the statements made last week, but it is very important that the State tries to divert young people from a path of crime. This is why a probation order is so important.

We are also aware that there are community service orders that can apply. They are provided for under the Criminal Justice (Community Service) Act 1983 and indeed under the Children Act. It can order an offender to do between 40 and 240 hours of unpaid work in the community if the person is over 16 and has been convicted of an offence that otherwise would have involved a jail sentence. As the Minister of State indicated, sometimes an individual can be given a partially or fully suspended sentence with a condition of Probation Service supervision. That will sometimes apply in respect of individuals who have been convicted of a serious offence but where the court suspends part or all of the sentence. It depends on the convicted person availing of and subjecting himself or herself to the Probation Service. There are similar supervision orders under the Misuse of Drugs Act and temporary release provisions.

The benefit of all of these measures is that if a person from an EU member state is convicted in Ireland or is in receipt of a probation or community order, it makes sense for him or her to be able to go back to the country from where he or she came to serve his or her probation or community order there. I do not know if it applies to the UK. I think the UK might not have implemented this decision under its discretion regarding justice decisions. It is a very difficult situation if an Irish person gets caught up in the criminal justice system of another country. Not everyone who comes before the courts on a criminal charge is a lifelong villain. Many people find themselves before the criminal courts in this country or other countries through misfortune, consuming too much alcohol, taking drugs or making stupid decisions. If that happens to an Irish citizen in another EU member state, it makes sense for us to try to get him or her back to this country so he or she can serve his or her probation or community service order here. I know Deputy Butler will talk about the impact this can have on families. It can have a very serious impact on them.

I welcome the fact that this legislation has been introduced belatedly by the Government. I urge the Minister of State and the Government to ensure that the other Council decision made on the same day, Council Framework Decision 2008/909/JHA, is transposed into Irish law as soon as possible. We will support the Bill. I suspect part of the reason this legislation is being given priority over the other Council decision of the same date is because of statements made by Mr. Justice Hunt in the Teelin case against the Minister for Justice and Equality where the judge stated that the State had failed to implement the framework decision by the time specified in that respect, and the United Kingdom had apparently exercised a right to opt out of its implementation. In addition, the State had declined to make resources available to receive the respondent for probation supervision on a voluntary basis.

It is important that the Government responds to important statements from experienced judges such as Mr. Justice Hunt but it is also important that we do not just react to the Judiciary. This is a decision of the Council that was signed in 2008. There was time for it to be transposed into domestic law. I understand that it was to be done by 5 December 2011. It is now more than 11 years after the signing of this decision and the other decision in respect of custodial sentences and they still have not been transposed into Irish law. I think the Minister of State will have to answer that but we will support this legislation.

The effect of the Bill will be to allow an Irish resident who is sentenced to a period of probation for an offence committed while temporarily in another member state to return home and be supervised by the Irish Probation Service. It will allow a resident of another member state who commits an offence in Ireland for which he or she receives a sentence of probation to return to his or her country of residence under the supervision of the probation services in that state. The current situation where an offender is sentenced to a period of probation in another jurisdiction in any other member state outside of Ireland means that the offender is away from family and friends and has no pathway which allows him or her to be transferred home.

When I looked at this Bill and decided what I would say, my first thought was for the parents. In some instances, it makes life very difficult for very elderly parents whose children have done wrong, have been sentenced, are serving their sentence and have the opportunity to avail of probation but are unable to return to their own country. It is very difficult, particularly if the parents are elderly. The last thing we want elderly parents to worry about if they are not well is how their son or daughter is surviving in another country and what will happen when he or she gets the opportunity to come home. It would make life much easier on a number of levels if the offender was able to come back to his or her own area to remain under supervision by probation officers in his her country for the duration or remainder of the sentence. There is no doubt that the person must serve his or her sentence and that if he or she is lucky enough to receive probation, he or she must adhere to the terms and conditions.

When one stops and thinks about it, it could be anyone's brother, sister, niece or nephew. It is a very difficult situation, particularly for parents who have brought up their child with the best intentions and want him or her to do well in the world. The child may not have had the opportunity to do well and may go down the wrong path. It must be an awful worry for a parent every night thinking whether he or she will ever get an opportunity to bring his or her son or daughter back home.

Returning home would better serve as a means for rehabilitation and integrating the person back in the community, which is best achieved with the support of a family network and support services here. This Bill would also allow the State to provide the necessary support in a practical and legislative way to Irish citizens who find themselves sentenced to a period of probation in another member state while also allowing the State to impose sanctions, if necessary, on the offender. However, it would be done in the offender's home state. At the moment, the arrangement in place could have a detrimental effect on the mental health and emotional well-being of the person who offends and their families, who must feel powerless and frustrated at not having their loved one closer. The effects of this Bill will be positive for the offender, his or her family and friends, the wider community and, of course, the participating member state. I am happy to support it. The Bill allows for a better outcome that will have a more lasting and positive effect on all members of society.

I am disappointed that it has taken almost a decade to complete the process. The failure to implement the framework decision has also drawn criticism from the Judiciary, as my colleague has said. In the Minister for Justice and Equality v. Teelin, the High Court considered an extradition request in which the respondent argued that the failure by the State to implement the framework decision provided grounds for refusing to order his surrender to the UK. The respondent was convicted of stabbing an individual with the head of a screwdriver, causing a puncture wound to the victim’s head. He was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. The respondent was aged 17 at the time of the offence and was in the UK for a brief holiday. Having served three years of his imprisonment, he was initially released on licence in 2013. As a condition of his release on licence, he resided at a probation hostel. The respondent did not have any connection to the UK and he found it difficult to live with strangers away to be away from his family and friends. The Teelin case provides a practical example of the type of circumstances where, once implemented, the framework decision will be of benefit to offenders by providing for their rehabilitation and reintegration into society. It also demonstrates the harm caused by the failure to implement the framework decision.

Fianna Fáil supports increased opportunities for social reintegration by allowing the probation measures that have been imposed on offenders to be supervised in the country in which they live. I hope that this Bill will become law very soon.

Ar an gcéad dul síos, ba mhaith liom a rá go mbeimid ag tacú leis an mBille seo. Is Bille praiticiúil agus luachmhar é. B'fhéidir go bhfuil sé beagáinín déanach ach tá sé úsáideach agus beimid ag tacú leis. I welcome the opportunity to discuss this Bill today. It certainly has been a long time in coming. It provides for mutual recognition of judgments and probation decisions with a view to the supervision of probation measures and alternative sanctions. Mutual recognition is a central part of the order of European law and is a significant part of the European arrest warrant. It is important that there are safeguards within that, which is a point to which I will return. In this example it is of value. The Bill is, to a large extent, technical in nature but it is actually quite practical legislation and it makes sense. Every year thousands of EU citizens are convicted of offences while temporarily abroad in other member states. The proposals of this legislation are part of a package of measures aimed at ensuring such offenders comply with the penalties or sentences imposed on them while maximising the chances of effective rehabilitation or reintegration into the communities in which they live and to which they will return. Its implementation would mean that those convicted of an offence may serve probation decisions and alternative sanctions in their country of ordinary residence. The Bill also provides for the procedures to apply if an offender who has been sentenced abroad seeks to serve a probation decision or alternative sanction in Ireland.

The benefits of this measure have been outlined by several agencies. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights report from 2016 states that social rehabilitation:

is to be achieved by having persons serve their sentences, or having suitable alternatives to detention (probation measures) supervised, ‘closer to home’. The Framework Decision on probation and alternative sanctions also aims to improve the protection of victims and the general public while encouraging suitable alternatives to detention.

Likewise the European Commission has noted that prisoners overseas are often more likely to face custodial sentences when compared with nationals living in the jurisdiction, as the sentencing judge may consider supervision and probation measures to be inappropriate due to a fear that a sentenced person may not participate or may flee the jurisdiction. It is to be hoped that the proper implementation of the framework decision will give greater confidence to judges here and abroad that alternatives to custodial sentences will be properly served, monitored and implemented abroad and in the home country of the offender.

As I stated at the outset, the Bill is a long time in coming. The deadline for the implementation of the framework decision was 6 December 2011. We have missed that deadline by seven years. The only other jurisdiction that has not implemented the framework decision is Britain, which is a point to which I will return.

The value of these measures has been well outlined by me, the Minister and the other speakers but, while not wanting to be too fussy, I take slight issue with one of the points raised by Deputy O'Callaghan, which related to revelations that the Garda youth diversion project was not working to maximum capacity. I have no issue with it. It is important to state that the Garda youth diversion project was not the issue, rather it was the non-referral of cases and the referral of cases which were deemed inappropriate. Perhaps the Deputy was misspeaking because I am sure he did not intend to criticise the project. It is important to put that on record, however, as the Garda youth diversion project is an excellent project. The evidence I have seen suggests that it is effective and that it does encourage young people away from criminal offences and, potentially, a life of crime. I have seen the benefit of it at first hand. We have an excellent youth diversion project in Togher. It won a prize in the youth category of the Tidy Towns competition a year or two ago. There is excellent work being done there. There are serious issues with the cases that were not referred to the project. The Minister of State will be very aware of those very worrying cases. I am sure we will have an opportunity to debate that in the future. Indeed, there has been some speculation in respect of adult cases which were not properly progressed. That is a matter to which we will return. It is a very worrying area but it is not necessarily germane to this specific debate.

Perhaps one of the main reasons we are addressing this particular issue now is the criticism of the Department of Justice and Equality and of the Government by Mr. Justice Hunt in the Minister for Justice & Equality v. Teelin in 2015. Within that judgment, there was an affidavit from James Dixon of the Bournemouth probation office who stated:

there would be clear advantages to Mr Teelin serving the remainder of his custodial sentence in Ireland. He is a young man with a history of mental health problems and therefore I think that regular contact with his family would greatly assist in keeping him stable and focused. It would also give him more opportunity to make plans and prepare for release to his home area.

Although this was a specific case in the High Court, I am sure similar situations were and are not uncommon insofar as inadequate supports existing for someone who is released from a prison setting and who is on probation thereafter. In his judgment Mr. Justice Tony Hunt was of a similar opinion to the probation officer and scathing of this jurisdiction for delaying the framework decision, using quite strong language to outline this frustration. The judgment reads:

it is a lamentable state of affairs that an absence of resources dictated that no arrangement, whether formal or informal, could be devised so as to accommodate both the respondent’s desire and that of the United Kingdom Probation Service that he should be supervised in his own country of residence, rather than for an extended period in a country with which he has no real connection. It is impossible to see what meaningful benefit or rehabilitation could accrue to the respondent from a protracted period of residence in a probation hostel in a town and country with which he has no real connection.

It is also a matter of regret that neither of the respective jurisdictions has seen fit to implement the Framework Decision on probation matters within the specified time limit, which might have allowed the respondent to have a formal method of instituting a type of supervision arrangement apparently thought to be desirable by the probation services in both jurisdictions. This State has failed to implement the Framework Decision by the time specified in that respect, and the United Kingdom has apparently exercised a right to opt out of implementation thereof. In addition, this State has declined to make resources available to receive the respondent for probation supervision on a voluntary basis.

The facts of this case illustrate clearly that the respondent is precisely the kind of person who could be benefitted by a transferred probation arrangement. All successful probation arrangements result in the accrual of a dual benefit, to the individual supervised and to society in general, the possibility of which has now been lost in the case of the respondent. Furthermore, the taxpayer in the United Kingdom might have been spared the expense of further dealings with the respondent.

Mr. Justice Hunt noted in his remarks that Britain decided to opt out of the implementation of the framework decision. Had Ireland implemented it and Britain not done so, I am not sure whether Mr. Teelin would have benefitted from it in any event. Plainly the UK is not going to implement this framework decision. In the context of Brexit it probably would not be able to even if it so wished.

Will the Minister of State clarify what current arrangements exist between Britain and Ireland and between North and South or whether there are forthcoming plans to deal with this issue? Clearly, the most common instance in which we will be dealing with this is where a person may have committed an offence in the North or the South and who wishes to serve their probation in their home community. There potentially is a lot of traffic between Ireland and Britain as well, but the cross-Border element is significant. I would appreciate if the Minister of State would address what exists currently, what might exist in the future and how we might see the benefits that exist from this legislation enjoyed by people in an all-Ireland context.

Probation is a chance for someone who has previously offended to reintegrate and hopefully become a more active citizen going forward. Integration is better improved by being within one's own community with the links and supports that exist there to help rehabilitation. It gives the person access to familial support and the support of others in their lives, to be part of their rehabilitation process and it is a very valuable tool in the justice system.

In order to fulfil this mandate, the Probation Service will need adequate and increased resources to enjoy the full benefits of this legislation. Sinn Féin will be supporting the Bill.

I will not detain the House for too long. The Labour Party will support the Bill, which fulfils a very simple purpose, as the Minister of State has said. That is to facilitate a person who is under the supervision of the Probation Service in one EU member state but who lives in another EU member state to return home to continue his or her supervision there. We will support the Bill. The Minister of State has outlined the intention of the Bill very clearly. It gives effect to the provisions of the EU Council Framework Decision 2008/947/JHA.

While I have the opportunity, I wish to refer to the Probation Service and praise the work it does. It is very instructive to look at the monthly offender population reports. The January report shows there are 9,850 people who are guests - if you will - of the service. Of that figure, 1,471 persons are in custody and 8,379 are in the community. That is a testament to how successful the Probation Service is. It is worthwhile for us to acknowledge the vital role it plays in Irish society.

While it is not germane to the Bill I wish to also refer to the social enterprise strategy called A New Way Forward. I understand a review was carried out for 2017 - 2019. The whole modus operandi of the social enterprise strategy is to support social enterprises within the criminal justice system. It is a laudable initiative, the main aim of which is to ensure there is not a rate of recidivism. There are 20 social enterprises employing people who have had convictions, with 46 jobs created within social enterprises up to October 2018. While it is not pertinent to the Bill, I believe there is a clear case to be made for ensuring that the social enterprise strategy continues and for resources to be put into it to create more jobs for people who have a history of offending. Through an increase in educational and training roles and jobs, there is less likelihood of reoffending. The Labour Party would wholeheartedly support any resources the Government might put into that strategy.

While we are speaking about the prisoner population and those who are being looked after within the community by the Probation Service, I acknowledge the role of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in providing consular assistance to those Irish citizens - and there are a few - who are serving time in prisons overseas and especially outside the European Union. It is encouraging to know that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade takes a very humane approach, notwithstanding some of the crimes that have been committed abroad. The Department takes a very humane approach to ensuring that the welfare of prisoners abroad is maintained insofar as is practicable, and it is worth acknowledging the Department's role in that.

The Labour Party supports the Bill and I thank the Minister of State for bringing it before the House.

I listened with interest to the Deputies' comments on the Bill and I thank all Members who contributed to the debate. As I had indicated in my opening remarks, the primary purpose of the Bill is to implement the EU Council Framework Decision 2008/947/JHA on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments and probation decisions with a view to the supervision of probation measures and alternative sanctions.

I believe the Deputies have fully realised that the Bill is not controversial and is necessary legislation that is required for Ireland to adhere to its obligations under the EU framework decision. While the Bill is lengthy and quite technical its aims are straightforward. The legislation will enable a person on whom a probation measure or alternative sanction has been imposed to return from the sentencing state to his or her state of ordinary residence without any adverse effect on the measure or sanction imposed, enhancing the prospects of the sentenced person's reintegration into society. These are important measures to assist imposing and enforcing criminal sanctions on non-residents, while maintaining a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration.

Once enacted, the Bill will increase the chances of social reintegration by offenders by ensuring that probation measures imposed on them can be followed up and supervised in the country in which they live. This allows the offender to maintain ties with family, to continue employment or education, and to engage with support services in his or her home country, all of which assist in rehabilitation and reintegration. Successful reintegration reduces the risk of reoffending, improving the protection of victims and society.

The measure is one of a series of EU mutual recognition measures in the area of criminal law. This measure addresses probation supervision and two similar measures address pre-trial supervision and custodial sentences. I am happy to advise colleagues that Bills that will transpose those two measures are currently being drafted and the Government aims to bring them before the House later this year. Together these measures create a comprehensive system to facilitate the rehabilitation of offenders by allowing citizens to return to the member states in which they live during and following the criminal proceedings.

The Probation Service has been actively involved in the preparation of this legislation and has the necessary structures in place to begin operating these new procedures, once the provisions are in force. I join with colleagues in the Chamber who have acknowledged the great work of the Probation Service. It has the full support of everyone in the House in the work it does. We will continue to research and examine these issues to ensure we have the most up-to-date methodologies in place to deal with people who need support.

Reference was made to co-operation with the United Kingdom. The UK opted out of this framework directive and for this reason, these measures will not apply to the UK. The Probation Service will continue to co-operate with the UK authorities on individual cross-Border cases as it does at present. As this is done on an administrative basis, there are limits to what can be done. That is the situation for the information of the House.

I thank Deputies for their contributions. Matters raised in the debate will be considered further in advance of and during the consideration by committee of this Bill. I look forward to further debating the Bill on Committee Stage. I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.