Judge criticises Garda criminal records

A judge today criticised how the Probation Offenders Act is often recorded as a criminal conviction on the Garda PULSE computer system.

Judge Bryan Smyth’s comments at the Children’s Court came during the case of a 16-year-old girl who pleaded guilty to stealing two sandwich rolls from a shop in Swords in Dublin.

He was told by the prosecuting Garda that the girl had three previous convictions, one for criminal damage and two for thefts.

When he asked for further details he heard that the girl had been given the benefit of the Probation Offenders Act each time.

“That is not a conviction,” he said. “I have mentioned it a number of times before and a number of gardaí continue to say that these are convictions when in fact they are not.”

He said that although it should be recorded on the Garda PULSE system that a person has received the Probation Act it should not be listed as a conviction.

“I wonder what information is given to prospective employers when enquiries are made over previous convictions,” he added.

The girl was remanded on bail pending sentence for a welfare report to be obtained.

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