Online dating app ban proposed for convicted sex offenders

Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone says judges should have explicit banning powers

Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone wants judges to have the power  to ban convicted sex offenders from using online dating apps. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/THE IRISH TIMES

Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone wants judges to have the power to ban convicted sex offenders from using online dating apps. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/THE IRISH TIMES

 

Judges would be able to ban convicted sex offenders from using online dating apps under new proposals to amend the Sex Offenders Bill.

Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone Noone has called on the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, to consider including a provision allowing judges to order sex offenders not to use the apps in the new Bill.

“In cases involving sex offenders, and in particular where there is evidence that the offender had linked up with a victim through a dating app, it should be included in the new law that judges can, as a condition of sentence, order the offender not to use any dating apps following their sentencing or release,” said Ms Noone.

Under the 2001 Act, a judge has the power to prohibit a person who is subject to a sex offender order from doing anything in order to protect the public from serious harm.

Currently, a judge does not have the power to restrict a convicted sex offender from using a dating app after they are sentenced and released.

“I am proposing that we explicitly add something in the new legislation that bans offenders from using these apps. This would make it far more likely that judges would apply such a condition,” she said.

The Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill which was approved by the government makes provision for the post-release supervision and monitoring of sex offenders.

A central provision is that offenders who are deemed to constitute a high risk of reoffending or revictimising can be compelled to wear electronic tags to monitor and control their movements.

The Bill also features a number of other measures, including a requirement that released sex offenders register with An Garda Síochána within three working days of release as opposed to seven under current laws. They will also be required to notify gardaí of any change of address. There will also be new requirements to provide basic information that is requested, in addition to photographic and finger-print identification.

“Now that the bill is being drafted, I am calling for this provision to be included. I will raise this in due course when the Bill gets to the Seanad,” said Ms Noone.