Growth in sex offenders list must see ‘soft information’ included in vetting to protect children from paedophile predators – Neville

– Increase of 81 persons on Sex Offenders Register in last 7 months

Fine Gael Deputy Health and Children Spokesperson, Dan Neville TD, has today (Tuesday) called on the Minister for Health to ensure that procedures to vet adults who work with children can include soft information on previous suspect behaviour, as well as hard information concerning criminal convictions. Deputy Neville said that, following confirmation of increasing numbers on the sex offenders register, comprehensive procedures must be put in place in Ireland to protect children.

‘Figures released to me by the Minister for Justice show that there are now 988 persons on the sex offenders register – an increase of 81 persons in the last seven months, when there were 907 on the register last May. Since 27th September 2001 convicted sex offenders are required to notify their names and addresses to the Garda Síochána in accordance with the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 2001.

‘Fine Gael has called for assurances that the promised referendum on children’s rights will ensure that procedures for vetting people to work with children will able to include ‘soft information’ on suspect behaviour as well as convictions.

‘We welcome the fact that the Government is finally giving serious consideration to protecting the rights of children by way of a referendum. However, any referendum must also ensure that procedures to vet adults who work with children can include soft information on previous suspect behaviour, as well as hard information concerning criminal convictions.

‘In December 2003, my colleague Olwyn Enright TD proposed a series of measures to ensure adequate vetting of anyone working with children or vulnerable adults. These proposals outlined the need to ensure that vetting procedures take account of soft information, and provided very clear guidelines to do so. It is essential that this safeguard is put in place in order to protect the good name of people who wish to work with children, as well as ensuring that children receive the highest form of protection.

‘The Soham murderer Ian Huntley was able to work in a school in spite of the fact that he had previously been investigated on several occasions for rape and sexual assault. The lack of any conviction meant that his past history did not prevent him from working in a school environment.

‘In Northern Ireland, soft information is included as part of vetting procedures and it is imperative that we introduce a similar strict policy in this part of the island.

‘If the Government is as committed to protecting the rights of children as it claims, it must ensure that the promised referendum addresses any constitutional issues arising from the use of soft information. Protecting children from becoming the prey of paedophiles is too important to wait.’

PQ

Ref No: 39278/06 Written

Question No: 178

Dáil Question addressed to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell by Deputy Dan Neville

* To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons who are on the Sex Offenders Register.
– Dan Neville T.D.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that 988 persons were subject to the notification requirements of Part 2 of the Sex Offenders Act, 2001, as of 20 November, 2006.

Author: Stephen

Cork born and bred, proud European and Irishman. Involved in many organisations and politics. Also writes for SpirtualityIreland.org and UCC Express.

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