Monitoring sex offenders in Ireland

Introduction

If you are convicted of a sexual offence, the court will issue you with a Certificate of Conviction. The Gardaí and the governor of the facility where you will be detained will also get a copy of the certificate. The certificate states:

  • The offence you were convicted of
  • The sentence you received
  • That you are subject to reporting requirements

The Sex Offender Management and Intelligence Unit (SOMIU) of the Gardaí deal with certificates issued from the court. This means that SOMIU have the details of everyone who has been convicted of certain sexual offences and who are subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 2001. They keep a record of each individual using the court certificate (and this record is commonly known as the Sex Offenders Register). SOMIU are responsible for maintaining these records and monitoring the reported activity of sex offenders.

SOMIU monitor sex offenders by cross-referencing these certificates with the Sex Offender Notification Forms supplied by local Garda stations. These forms have the sex offender’s address as well as other details that the sex offender must provide to the Gardaí under the Act. SOMIU also receive email notifications when information is entered onto PULSE (Police Using Leading Systems Effectively) about a sex offender, so they can act on any information that needs attention.

At a local level the Gardaí have nominated Inspectors in each local district who are responsible for monitoring and managing sex offenders in their district. Each sex offender is assigned a liaison Garda or Sergeant. The liaison Garda or Sergeant carries out a risk assessment of the offender, which determines how often they will visit the offender. They also monitor the offender to ensure they are complying with their requirements under the Act. For example, they ensure that the offender is living at the address they provided to the Gardaí. They will prosecute the offender if the offender breaks these requirements.

Rules

Post-release supervision

If you are convicted of certain sexual offences the court will consider whether to impose a sentence with post-release supervision. Post-release supervision means that an offender is monitored when they are released from prison to ensure that they comply with the conditions of a post-release supervision order. When considering whether to give post-release supervision, the court must take into account:

  • The need for a period of post-release supervision
  • The need to protect the public from serious harm from the offender
  • The need to prevent the offender from committing further sexual offences
  • The need to rehabilitate or further rehabilitate the offender

The court can hear evidence or submissions from any concerned person when they are deciding whether to impose a sentence with post-release supervision. Post-release supervision is supervised by the Probation Service who liaise with the Gardaí to ensure the sex offender complies with the supervision order. The court can include specific conditions in the supervision order, for example they can:

  • Prohibit the sex offender from attending certain places, such as schools, sports-clubs and play-grounds
  • Require that the sex offender get psychological counselling or other appropriate treatment during the period of supervision

The term of imprisonment and the length of the post-release supervision order cannot be longer than the maximum possible sentence.

The offender’s probation officer can apply to the court to change the conditions of the post-release supervision order. They can apply in the month before the offender is due to be released from prison or during the supervision period.

A sex offender is committing an offence if they don’t comply with the requirements of the supervision and have no reasonable excuse for this. If this happens, the offender will be liable, on summary conviction, to a class C fine or to imprisonment for a maximum of 12 months, or both.

Monitoring sex offenders from other jurisdictions in Ireland

The Sex Offenders Act 2001 includes a provision to ensure that Ireland would not become a safe-haven for sex offenders convicted outside Ireland who are looking to avoid the reporting requirements imposed on them where they were convicted.

Anyone who is convicted of a sexual offence in another country and who later moves to Ireland is subject to a reporting requirement in the same way as someone convicted in Ireland. This is provided that the sexual crime they have committed corresponds to a sexual crime in Ireland that has reporting requirements. If the offender is subject to similar reporting requirements under the law where they were convicted, they have a notification requirement. This means that they must notify the Gardaí if they have been resident in Ireland for 7 days.

The Gardaí have a system of receiving information from and giving information to police forces through Interpol. There is worldwide acceptance that police forces have a duty of care to all citizens to share information on sex offenders where there is a real danger to vulnerable people if they are exposed to these people.

Employment

Under the Sex Offenders Act, 2001 sex offenders must inform prospective employers of the nature of their conviction if they are applying to do work that consists of having unsupervised access to or contact with a child or children or a mentally impaired person. If the offender fails to notify an employer they can be fined up to €12,697 or sentenced to up to 5 years in prison or both.

Can I find out if a sex offender lives in my area?

No. The details held by the Gardaí about people guilty of sex offences who are subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 are not subject to freedom of information legislation. Therefore, you cannot apply under the Freedom of Information Acts to find out about sex offenders living in your area.

Data protection rights only allow you to request information that is held about yourself. This includes information held by the Gardaí (with a number of exceptions). It is not possible to make a data protection request about another person.

Page edited: 11 February 2019