Sex Offenders Register
The Sex Offenders Act 2001 came into force in Ireland in June 2001. This law has significantly changed the way sex offenders are treated by the criminal justice system in Ireland. Those who are convicted of certain sexual offences are now obliged to provide certain information to the Gardaí including the address at which they are living following their release from prison.
While the term Sex Offenders Register is commonly used in Ireland, there is in fact no such register and the term is not included in any section of the Sex Offenders Act 2001. The only information on the whereabouts of sex offenders in Ireland which is held centrally by the Gardaí is a certificate issued by the court in relation to those convicted by the court of sexual offences.
This certificate states that the convicted person is now subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act, 2001. The Garda Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit also receive a copy of the Sex Offenders Notification Form from the Garda station in whose area the sex offender resides. This means that details of everyone subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 are held centrally and these certificates are commonly known as the Sex Offenders Register. Further information on the monitoring of sex offenders in Ireland is available here.
Duty to provide information to the Gardaí on whereabouts
The obligation of sex offenders to notify certain information to the Gardaí is set down in Part 2 of the Sex Offenders Act 2001.
The list of sexual offences which are subject to the Act are as follows:
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Defilement of a girl under 15 years
- Defilement of a girl 15 – 17 years
- Buggery with an animal
- Attempt to commit such buggery
- Buggery of a person under 17 years
- Acts of gross indecency
- Sexual offences against mentally impaired persons
- Offences under the Child Trafficking and pornography Act, 1998
- Sexual offences committed outside Ireland contrary to Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Act, 1996
- An offence of attempting to commit any offence referred to above
- An offence of aiding, abetting, counselling, procuring or inciting any offence referred to above
- An offence consisting of conspiracy to commit any offence referred to above.
In the case of sexual assault and incest, the Sex Offenders Act 2001 does not apply if the victim or other party to the offence was aged 17 years or more when the offence was committed and the person convicted has not been sentenced to any punishment involving imprisonment or made subject to any measures involving deprivation of liberty.
In the case of defilement of a child aged under 17 years, the Act does not apply if the offender is not more than two years older than the victim. This provisions is set out in Section 3 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 2006.
What information must the sex offender provide?
If you are convicted of a sexual offence and becomes subject to the reporting requirements you must notify the Gardaí of your name and home address within 7 days of becoming subject to the requirements. (This normally means within 7 days following your release from prison).
Similarly you must notify the Gardaí within 7 days of any change of name and or change of home address or if you intend to reside elsewhere in Ireland for more than 7 days. Offenders must also notify the Gardaí if they intend to leave Ireland for 7 days or more and are required to provide the Gardaí with the address of the place outside Ireland that they intend to reside or stay at.
Where someone who is subject to the sex offender notification requirements is imprisoned in respect of any offence and the release of that person is imminent, the governor in charge of the prison must notify the Garda Commissioner of the pending release at least 10 days before the date of the release.
How must an offender notify Gardaí?
If you are required to provide certain information to the Gardaí under the Sex Offenders Act, 2001 you may give notification in the following way:
- By attending in person at any Garda station which is a Divisional or District Headquarters. and giving the information required orally to a member of that Garda station or
- By sending by post a written notification of the information required to any such Divisional or District Headquarters
After the Gardaí receive the notification, they acknowledge it in writing. The Gardaí also complete a Sex Offenders Notification Form. The original completed form is sent to the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit at Harcourt Square, Harcourt Street, Dublin 2. A copy of the form is sent to the offender and a copy is retained in the Garda station.
How long does the requirement to notify the Gardaí last?
You are obliged to provide information to the Gardaí regarding yourself:
- Indefinitely if you were sentenced to life imprisonment or to a term of more than 2 years
- For 10 years if the term of imprisonment was for between 6 months and 2 years (5 years if the offender was aged under 18)
- For 7 years if the sentence was for less than 6 months (3.5 years if the offender was aged under 18)
- For 5 years if the sentence imposed was suspended or if no prison sentence was imposed (2.5 years if the offender was aged under 18)
If you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment and part of that term is suspended, you are considered to be sentenced to the part not suspended.
Can an offender apply to have the obligation cancelled?
Anyone required to report to the Gardaí indefinitely is allowed to apply to the Circuit Court for a cancellation from that obligation after at least 10 years have passed from the date of the person’s release from custody. If, however, you intend to apply for a cancellation you are required to notify the Garda Superintendent in whose area you reside of your intention to make the application.
What happens if an offender does not comply with the notification requirements?
If you fail (without reasonable excuse) to comply with the notification requirements, including providing false or misleading information, you may be prosecuted. If convicted you are liable for:
- On summary conviction, to a class A fine or imprisonment for up to 12 months, or both
- On conviction on indictment, to a fine of up to €10,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both
Do these notification requirements apply to someone convicted outside the State?
Yes they do. If you are convicted of a sexual offence outside Ireland where that offence would constitute a sexual offence in Ireland, you are subject to the same Garda notification requirements if you subsequently come to live in Ireland. If you fail to notify the Gardaí of your details, then the Gardaí can prosecute you for non-compliance or failure to comply with the requirements.