Laws on spent convictions and vetting procedures commence

Minister says new law will benefit ex-offenders who struggle to get jobs

An Act designed to help ex-offenders secure work has come into effect, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has announced.

Under the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 a range of minor offences will become spent after seven years. . The law does not apply to any conviction for a sexual offence or an offence which was tried in the Central Criminal Court.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said it “should be of particular benefit to ex-offenders, who often find their path to employment blocked, once they admit to a previous offence.

“Society’s interests and those of the offender who mends his or her ways can coincide. It is in everyone’s interest that offenders who have paid their debt to society and want to leave crime behind are encouraged to do so. Insofar as this legislation can help, then it is to be welcomed by all.”

Ms Fitzgerald also announced the commencement of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012.

This will ensure relevant criminal convictions or other information concerning a person working with or seeking to work with children is disclosed in the appropriate manner.

The Act also provides for the use of soft information in regard to vetting, referred to in the Act as “specified information”. Specified information is information other than a court determined criminal conviction and the Act provides that such “specified information” is only disclosed where it raises a bona-fide concern that a person poses a threat to children or vulnerable person.