Sex Offenders Register
The Sex Offenders Act 2001 came into force in Ireland in 2001. This law changed how sex offenders are treated by the criminal justice system in Ireland. Under the Act people convicted of certain sexual offences must provide certain information to the Gardaí including details of where they will be living when they are released 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. If a person is convicted of a sexual offence under the Act, a Certificate of Conviction is issued from the relevant court to the Sex Offender Management and Intelligence Unit (SOMIU) and the convicted sex offender is recorded on the Garda PULSE (Police Using Leading Systems Effectively) system. The SOMIU maintains a record of everyone in the State who has been convicted of certain sexual offences and has obligations under the Sex Offenders Act 2001. A Garda Inspector in each division is nominated to manage the risk of sex offenders in their community, ensure sex offenders comply with the Act and report information to SOMIU.
A Certificate of Conviction states that the convicted person is subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act, 2001. The Garda Sex Offender Management and Intelligence Unit (SOMIU) also receive a copy of the Sex Offenders Notification Form from the Garda station where the sex offender lives. This form has the sex offender’s address and other details that they are required to provide to the Gardaí under the Act. This means that the details of everyone subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 are held centrally by the SOMIU and these documents are commonly known as the Sex Offenders Register. Information on post-release supervision is available in our document 'Monitoring sex offenders in Ireland'.
Requirement to provide information to the Gardaí on your whereabouts
Sex offenders must notify the Gardaí of certain information about their whereabouts. These notification requirements are set down in Part 2 of the Sex Offenders Act 2001.
The sexual offences which are subject to the Act and these notification requirements are:
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Defilement of a girl aged under 15
- Defilement of a girl aged between 15 – 17
- Buggery with an animal
- Attempt to commit such buggery
- Buggery of a person aged under 17
- Acts of gross indecency
- Sexual offences against people who are mentally impaired
- 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 cases 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
The Act does not apply in cases of defilement of a child aged under 17 years if:
- The victim is aged between 15 and 17 years of age when the offence takes place and
- The person guilty of the offence is less than 3 years older than the victim
What information must the sex offender provide?
If you are convicted of a sexual offence and become subject to the reporting requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 2001, 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 of being released from prison).
- Any change to your name or home address within 7 days of the change
- Any plans to live somewhere else in Ireland or to leave Ireland for more than 7 days. If you plan to do this, you must provide the Gardaí with the address you will be staying at.
If someone is subject to the sex offender notification requirements and is in prison for any offence, the prison must notify the Garda Commissioner at least 10 days before the prisoner is due to be released.
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 going to 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 a written notification with the required information by post to any Divisional or District Headquarters
When the Gardaí receive the notification, they acknowledge it in writing. The Gardaí also complete a Sex Offenders Notification Form, which contains the sex offender’s address and other details. The original completed form is sent to the Sex Offender Management and Intelligence Unit (SOMIU) at Garda National Protective Services Bureau, Harcourt Square, Harcourt Street, Dublin 2. A copy of the form is sent to the offender and a copy is kept at the Garda station.
How long does the requirement to notify the Gardaí last?
You are obliged to provide this information to the Gardaí about 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 who must report to the Gardaí indefinitely can apply to the Circuit Courtto cancel this requirement. They can only apply for this cancellation after at least 10 years have passed since they were released from custody. They apply to cancel the requirement on the grounds that the common good is no longer served by continuing to subject them to these requirements. They must notify the Garda Superintendent in the area where they live of their intention to apply to cancel these notification requirements.
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 and that offence is a sexual offence in Ireland, you are subject to the same Garda notification requirements if you come to live in Ireland. If you fail to notify the Gardaí of your details, then the Gardaí can prosecute you for non-compliance with the requirements.