Sex Offenders Act 2001 comes into effect

A new system of tracking sex offenders will come into effect tomorrow with the introduction of the Sex Offenders Act 2001.

A new system of tracking sex offenders will come into effect tomorrow with the introduction of the Sex Offenders Act 2001.

Under the new laws, Gardai will be informed at all times of the current names and addresses of convicted sex offenders, who will also have to notify the Gardai of details of any trips abroad lasting more than ten days.

The notification system will also apply to sex offenders who enter Ireland from abroad.

In addition, offenders who have received custodial sentences of more than two years will be obliged to notify the Gardai of their whereabouts for the rest of their lives.

The tracking system, is only one of six elements that come into effect with the Act.

Other provisions include:

  • A new Civil Sex Offenders Order against sex offenders whose behaviour in the community gives the Gardai concern who can apply to the civil courts for an order restraining the indiviudal. The order can be applied to both people who have offended, and to persons whose actions, while not technically criminal, give cause for concern in the community.
  • The order will prohibit sex offenders from doing certain things such as loitering near school playgrounds.
  • New system of post-release (from prison) supervision for sex offenders.
  • It will be an offence under the Act for sex offender to seek employment where unsupervised access to children is involved.
  • Separate legal representation in rape and other serious sexual assault cases in certain circumstances.
  • A substantial increase in the maximum penalty for sexual assault from five years to 14 years where the victim is a child and five to 10 years where the victim is an adult.

Announcing the introduction of the Act Mr O’ Donoghue said he hoped it would seriously curtail the incidence of sexual abuse and crime in the state.

"The message I want to get across to those who perpetrate these appalling crimes is that in future, on their release from prison they will . . .face strict new reporting requirements which, in many cases, lasting for the rest of their lives," he said.

"Moreover, if they fail to comply with the law in this respect they will be liable to further lengthy periods of imprisonment and/or substantial fines.

"Additionally, those sex offenders abroad who enter this State should also be aware they too willface the fill rigours of our new laws. These measures are tough but I make no apologies for that".

The Minister confirmed measures had been enacted to facilitate the registration of all those convicted of sex offences or currently serving a sentence for a sex offence.