In early February, the Government approved the drafting of a Criminal Justice (Community Sanctions) Bill to replace the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 with modern provisions dealing with community sanctions and the role of the Probation Service in the criminal justice system.
The General Scheme of the Bill, which is available on my Department's website, has been submitted to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality for pre-legislative consideration and has been submitted to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting.
It is my intention that the legislation will abolish the Court Poor Box and replace it with a statutory Reparation Fund to provide for a fair, equitable and transparent system of reparation that will apply only to minor offences dealt with by the District Court. The replacement of the Court Poor Box with a statutory Reparation Fund was recommended by the Law Reform Commission in its 2005 report The Court Poor Box: Probation of Offenders.
The new Reparation Fund will be used to provide additional funding for services for victims of crime and compensation payments payable by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal. The legislation will clearly provide that the Reparation Fund may not be used for any purpose other than the provision of compensation, reparation and assistance for victims of crime.