New law could allow photos of sex offenders to be given to schools 

New law could allow photos of sex offenders to be given to schools 

Photographs of sex offenders would be given to schools if the individual is seen in the locality acting suspiciously, if the amendment is passed. File picture

Schools and creches could be given photographs of sex offenders if they are seen in the locality acting suspiciously.

It is part of a new amendment to the Sex Offenders Bill, which also includes banning individuals convicted of a sexual offence from working with children or vulnerable adults.

If the amendment is passed, it would mean pictures of sex offenders, who are believed to pose a risk to the community, will be shared with the public.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the images would not be posted on social media and would only be shared in specific cases.

"If somebody is seen around a school, if they are behaving in a way that they shouldn't, to be able to show a picture to a teacher or a principal to make them aware of this individual that would be the kind of situation that we are talking about," said Ms McEntee.

"It is very specific, it is very focused and it is where a concern or a problem arises."

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has raised concerns that members of the public who may see these pictures could try to take justice into their own hands.

Director Liam Herrick warned the move could lead to vigilantism or innocent individuals who have been wrongly identified being targeted.

"I think there is a difference between sharing information with schools which are legal bodies with legal responsibilities already and bringing the public and individuals into the area of policing," said Mr Herrick.

"We would certainly caution against anything that could lead to individuals taking the law into their own hands."

However, independent TD Denis Naughten, who put forward this amendment, said the measure was a necessary step.

"Disclosing a name of an individual or a description of an individual is just not enough. Many of these individuals go out of their way to disguise their appearance," he said.

The proposal is due before the Dáil in two weeks' time.

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