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Department insists public will be safeguarded from sex offenders

Concerns have been raised that the Spent Convictions Bill will allow some people who have committed sexual offences to have their criminal record wiped.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter
Justice Minister Alan Shatter
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE DEPARTMENT OF Justice has insisted that some people who have committed sexual offences and who have had their criminal record ‘spent’ will not be allowed to work in areas where they could potentially be a danger to the public.

Responding to a report in yesterday’s Irish Examiner which claimed that some sex offenders would have their convictions “erased” under the Spent Convictions Bills being brought forward by Justice Minister Alan Shatter, the Department sought to clarify that this is not the case.

The bill allows for some criminal convictions to be ‘spent’ after a period of between three to seven years depending on the nature of the sentence. The Irish Examiner reported that “certain sexual offences” would be exempt.

But the department said these offences are not sexual offences under the Sex Offenders Act 2001 which is commonly referred to as the Sexual Offenders Register which lists crimes under which a person can be placed on the register.

The offences identified in the article included cases where the offender was convicted but not imprisoned for a sexual offence on a victim aged 17 or older or in a case where the offender and the victim, who was underage, were both close in age.

The Department said in a statement to TheJournal.ie that these “are not sexual offences for the purposes of  the 2001 Act requiring registration and are not sexual offences either for the purposes of the Spent Convictions Bill”

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It also said that the Spent Convictions Bill does not provide for the “erasing” of convictions from the record but non-disclosure after a conviction free rehabilitation period of between three and seven years “depending on the severity of the sentence handed down”.

The statement added: “To safeguard the public, the Bill provides that all convictions, whether spent or not, have to be disclosed in the case of certain job applications such as working with children and vulnerable adults, certain sensitive positions in the public service and in certain licence applications like for taxis and public service vehicles.”

Read: New bill will allow minor criminal records to be wiped

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Hugh O'Connell

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