Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 –
Mercy Law Resource Centre (MLRC) submitted its views on the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 on January 17th last. The Bill has since been considered by both the Seanad and the Dáil and is expected to return to the Dáil shortly for Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.
MLRC’s submission was acknowledged and endorsed by a number of Oireachtas members, including Senator Ivana Bacik, Deputy Mick Wallace, Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan and Deputy Anne Ferris. A number of amendments have been tabled by TDs Olivia Mitchell, Maureen O’Sullivan and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, which can be read here and include the following MLRC recommendations:
- In the vetting of persons who seek positions of employment relating to children or vulnerable persons is concerned, this Act should be read in conjunction with the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012. In all other cases, the Gardaí (or any other body with access to such information) should only disclose convictions which are unspent. Information relating to cautions, investigations without charge, and dismissals under the Probation Act 1907 should not be disclosed in any circumstances, with the exception of those covered by the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012.
- The Minister will appoint the Data Protection Commissioner to cover complaints made in relation to enforcement and investigative powers.
A number of amendments have already been made to the original Bill, including:
- Suspended sentences of up to 24 months, which are suspended in whole, are now covered by the legislation, provided that the suspension is not subsequently revoked;
- The relevant period that must pass before a conviction can be considered ‘spent’ has been reduced from 5 years to 4 years in respect of sentences of 6 months or less and 6 years to 5 years where a sentence of 12 months or less has been imposed;
- Where a person receives multiple convictions in one court sitting in respect of a single incident, those convictions are to be treated as one conviction;
- The Bill is to be linked to the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 in order to avoid replicating the definition of ‘relevant work’ in relation to working with children and vulnerable persons.
If you would like to read a full copy of our submission, please click here.
If you would like more information on the work of Mercy Law Resource Centre please see our website at www.mercylaw.ie.
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