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Views sought on spent convictions policy
Senator Lynn Ruane Pic: RollingNews.ie

07 Oct 2020 / legislation Print

Views sought on spent convictions policy

The Minister for Justice has launched a public consultation on the policy governing spent convictions.

In certain situations, people may need to disclose their criminal convictions, which can have a negative effect on their employment prospects and on other aspects of life, including foreign travel.

An individual, however, does not incur any penalty for failing to disclose a spent conviction.

The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 provides for certain convictions to become spent once seven years have passed since the date of conviction.

Sexual offences

The Department of Justice stressed, however, that sexual offences or convictions in the Central Criminal Court were not eligible to become spent convictions, and that this policy would not change following this review.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the Programme for Government included a commitment to a review of the act to broaden the range of convictions that are considered spent.

“I am pleased to begin that process of review by launching this public consultation document. It provides a look at the existing legislation as well as an overview of proposals aimed at expanding the scope and efficacy of Ireland’s spent convictions regime,” she said.

Rehabilitation

The consultation document highlights five main areas on which the department is seeking views:

  • The sentencing length limits for spent convictions,
  • The number of convictions that can be considered spent,
  • The principle of proportionality and spent convictions,
  • Incorporating a youth justice perspective,
  • The victim’s perspective.

The minister added that the review was part of a wider range of measures designed to promote rehabilitation and reduce the chances of people returning to criminality.

Last week, she met Senator Lynn Ruane, who has advocated for reform of spent convictions policy and published her own legislation last year.

Welcoming the move, Senator Ruane said she was encouraging those with lived experience of this issue to participate and engage with the process.

Submissions can be made by email to spentconvictions@justice.ie up to 12pm on Friday 6 November.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland