Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (594)

Denis Naughten

Question:

608 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 587 of 12 January 2011, the progress made to date on the provision of information to parents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35342/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice and Equality)

The Deputy's question concerns the disclosure, to parents, of information relating to persons on the sex offenders' register.

In exceptional circumstances, the provision of appropriate information to the public is already possible. This includes the disclosure of such information to parents. Currently, this is done on an administrative basis but, subject to Government approval, I intend to put these arrangements on a statutory footing.

Our primary objective has to be to minimise the risk posed to the public. The High Level Group which produced and published a discussion document on sex offenders was of the view that, if the Gardai have reason to believe a particular high risk sex offender poses a real and immediate danger, they should be free to tell individuals who need to know. Disclosure in such circumstances is perfectly reasonable.

However, giving the general public unrestricted access to names and addresses on the sex offenders' register would be likely to be counter-productive. That kind of access would drive offenders underground and make it more difficult to monitor and supervise them. This was the universal view of those who responded to the discussion document and participated in the public forum on the management of sex offenders.

General access to the register would also raise issues concerning the rights of persons who have completed their sentences and pose no future threat to society.

My Department has been conducting a wide-ranging examination of the law on sexual offences. Arising from the review, l expect to seek Government approval for legislative proposals, including amendments to the Sex Offenders Act 2001 to provide a statutory basis for necessary disclosure, in the coming months.