273. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if each person that has a spent conviction under the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016, has had their record dealt with electronically in such a way as to ensure that systems such as PULSE do not militate against them. [5155/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 provides that a person is not obliged to disclose certain convictions which are over 7 years old, subject to specified limitations. In accordance with the provisions of the Act, the following convictions are now spent:
1) All convictions in the District Court for motoring offences which are more than 7 years old subject to the proviso that spent convictions for dangerous driving are limited to a single conviction.
2) All convictions in the District Court for minor public order offences which are more than 7 years old.
3) In addition, where a person has one, and only one, conviction (other than a motoring or public order offence) which resulted in a term of imprisonment of less than 12 months (or a fine), that conviction is spent after 7 years. This provision applies to either a District Court or Circuit Court conviction.
Sexual offences or convictions in the Central Criminal Court are not eligible to become spent convictions.
The Act also made a series of amendments to the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 in respect of the arrangements for the disclosure or otherwise of past convictions in the context of the vetting process. These provisions are applied by the National Vetting Bureau in the context of processing vetting applications.
The fact that a conviction may be a spent conviction does not mean it ceases to be part of the person's criminal record; however a person will not be penalised in law or incur any liability for failing to disclose a spent conviction.
There is no formal procedure to be gone through to have a conviction declared spent. If the conviction is eligible to be spent, it becomes spent once seven years has passed from the date of conviction.
While a person would not be penalised for failing to disclose a conviction that is spent, disclosure is required in certain circumstances including for example for specified work, such as with An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, or applying for a public service vehicle, private security, taxi or firearm licence.
It is also the case that section 7 of the 2016 Act provides that a court may admit or require evidence regarding a spent conviction in certain circumstances and subject to any necessary restrictions with regard to publication of that evidence.
Arising from the above, An Garda Síochána is not required to expunge the details of such offences from PULSE. The Deputy will appreciate that the day-to-day operation of the PULSE system is a matter for An Garda Síochána.