IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Data Protection Commissioner reinforces call for Spent Convictions legislation

9th April 2010

In its Annual Report 2009, the Data Protection Commissioner reports that it reviewed the latest version of the Spent Convictions Bill adopted by the Government in the last year, calling for Spent Convictions legislation to be passed.

IPRT believes that the Spent Convictions Bill needs to be brought back onto the political agenda with urgency. A lack of legislation in this area means people who are convicted, even of less serious offenses, are 'punished for life.'

The lack of legislation in this area in Ireland means that people with a criminal record face barriers to employment, travel restrictions, difficulty in taking out mortgages or getting insurance cover, and in some cases, barriers to education. In short, they face barriers to successful reintegration and rehabilitation into society. And in the absence of this support for getting on with their lives, there is an increasing likelihood of reoffending.

It is in everyone's interest that this legislation is passed.

Excerpt from Data Commissioners Report 2009

Spent Convictions Bill

My Office was originally approached during 2008 for observations in relation to a Private Members' Bill - Spent Convictions Bill 2007. During 2009 we reviewed the latest version of the Bill adopted by the Government (Spent Convictions Bill 2007) and provided further comments for consideration. We welcome being consulted in regard to this important issue from both a data protection and human rights perspective. Ireland is one of a small number of EU Member States without substantive legislation in place providing for the spending of certain convictions after a stated period of time. The lack of legislation in this area has been a specific concern of this Office for a significant period of time given the requirement of the Data Protection Directive to set retention periods for personal data. The lack of set retention periods places persons convicted here, sometimes of minor offences a long time ago, in an unfavourable position in comparison to persons convicted of the same offences in other EU member states.

Read the full report here.