Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice the procedures in place to liaise with European counterparts if suspected sex offenders are travelling between jurisdictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29926/21]
207. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice the safeguards in place to stop suspected sex offenders travelling between jurisdictions in Europe if they are a possible flight-risk; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29927/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 206 and 207 together.
I can inform the Deputy that An Garda Síochána engages extensively with other police forces in relation to monitoring the travel arrangements of convicted sex offenders to and from the jurisdiction, particularly in respect of those countries with similar legislation to the Sex Offenders Act 2001.
Under section 10(3) of the Sex Offenders Act 2001, if a registered sex offender intends to leave the State for a continuous period of 7 days or more, they must notify An Garda Síochána of that intention and, if known, the address of the place outside the State they intend to reside or stay. Section 10(4) further relates to travelling outside of the jurisdiction.
The forthcoming Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill will, among other things, strengthen and tighten the notification requirements for convicted sex offenders. The Bill will reduce the notification period from seven to three days.
When Garda authorities become aware that a convicted sex offender has left or is intending to leave the State, personnel attached to the Sex Offender Management and Intelligence Unit (SOMIU), Garda National Protective Services Bureau, ensures that the relevant law enforcement agency in the country of destination is advised. This is generally conducted via Interpol.
An Information Sharing Agreement exists between An Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), supported by a Memorandum of Understanding, which allows the sharing of information directly between the SOMIU and the Public Protection Intelligence Unit, PSNI, regarding convicted sex offenders who cross over the border between both jurisdictions.
When the SOMIU receives such a notification, the information is formally recorded and the relevant nominated Divisional Inspector, with responsibility for the monitoring of sex offenders, is notified to ensure monitoring of the offender, and where relevant, ensure the offender is visited to confirm they understand their requirements under Part II of the Act of 2001.
In urgent cases, members of An Garda Síochána have attended at ports of entry into the State to advise travelling sex offenders of their obligations under the Act.
There are cases however, where persons with convictions abroad enter this jurisdiction and nonotification is brought to the attention of An Garda Síochána. Typically these type of cases occur where no sex offender legislation exists in the offender’s home country or where the offender leaves their home jurisdiction without notifying law enforcement authorities. Question No. 207 answered with Question No. 206.