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10th Nov 2021

New legislation allows electronic tagging of sex offenders

Katy Brennan

It will help people “feel safe in their communities”.

The electronic tagging of sex offenders will be allowed in certain circumstances under new legislation published by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

The Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill 2021, which will strengthen the monitoring and management of offenders, was approved by Ministers at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

This monitoring through the use of electronic tags aims to ensure one complies with a sex offender order or a post-release supervision order.

The Bill will also allow for fingerprinting and photographing of the offender to confirm their identity.

The new law provides for the courts to prohibit sex offenders from working with children or vulnerable people.

It also means stricter notification requirements for sex offenders will be introduced and they will have to inform Gardaí of a change of address within three days instead of the current seven days.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Minister McEntee said there is already strong legislation in place to monitor and manage sex offenders living in the community.

However, this new bill is an improvement as it adds “many layers and as much oversight as possible so that people feel safe in their communities”.

For instance, where there is a sex offender who has previously served a sentence for child abuse, Gardaí can use their discretion to inform any new partners of the person’s history if they feel there is a risk.

“If there was a situation … an issue with a child and that is the reason they were in prison, and are suddenly dating someone who has children, there could be an opportunity for the Gardaí to inform that woman or man that this is potentially a threat to them or their family,” the Minister said.

However, she went on to clarify:

“It’s not going to be in every situation. What we don’t want is to potentially incite an entire community by sending a text alert.

“What’s most important is that they are monitored, that they are managed by members of An Garda Síochána and the probation service. We have to strike a balance.”

Main image credit: Sam Boal/©