Denis Naughten TD has welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Justice that she is considering the need for new legislation following his call for sex offenders to be refused the right to change their name by deed poll.
Speaking in the Dáil previously Denis Naughten warned that the key weakness in the Sex Offenders Amendment Bill was that it failed to close off loopholes that allow a sex offender to have their offences effectively forgotten through the change of the offender’s name by deed poll or by using the Google ‘right to be forgotten’.
“Changing their names makes it more difficult for members of the public to do an online check into a person’s history,” stated Denis Naughten
He pointed out that in the UK, where the sex offenders register was modernised over a decade ago, offenders were using the deed poll process to change their name to avoid detection.
He added: “Over the last decade as I have campaigned to have a proper and effective sexual offenders register, I have been confronted by arguments regarding the rights of offenders. I believe that it is now time to change this balance in favour of victims and ensure that their stories are not brushed under the electronic carpet by giving sex offenders the right to be forgotten.
“I welcome confirmation from the Minister for Justice that she has noted the points I made in relation to change of name by deed poll in the Second Stage debate on the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill and is examining whether legislative changes are needed in this area,” concluded Denis Naughten.
Editor’s Note: Dáil reply from Minister for Justice.
For Oral Answer on : 17/02/2022
Question Number(s): 127 Question Reference(s): 8377/22
Asked by: Denis Naughten T.D.
To ask the Minister for Justice the steps she is taking to restrict the ability of convicted sex offenders to change their name by deed poll; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
I can assure the Deputy that there is a robust framework of legislation in place to monitor and manage the ongoing risk posed by convicted sex offenders and that it is kept under ongoing review.
Under the Sex Offenders Act 2001, convicted sex offenders have to notify Gardaí of their personal details including their name and address for a period of time after conviction, up to life, in the case of more serious offenders.
There is also an obligation to notify An Garda Síochána of any change of name (including by deed poll) within seven days.
As the Deputy is aware, last November, I published the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill 2021 which will strengthen the existing system for managing and monitoring sex offenders.
Some of the main features of the Bill provide for changes to the notification requirements for sex offenders, including a reduction of the notification period from seven to three days.
I wish to assure the Deputy that I have noted the points he made in relation to change of name by deed poll in the Second Stage debate on the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill and I am examining whether legislative changes are needed in this area.