Since the 31st March, 2014, an administrative garda vetting filter has applied to the disclosure of certain criminal convictions.
Where certain organisations are registered, such as childcare or educational bodies, it used to be the position that all prior convictions were disclosed to a potential employer.
The impact of a previous conviction on an individual’s record clearly lessens the potential employee’s prospect of securing employment.
This hardship mainly lies in the fact that the previous conviction may be irrelevant to the suitability of the employee in relation to the job. The conviction may also be of historical significance only, particularly where the conviction occurred when the employee was young and immature and the conviction was a ‘once-off’.
Fortunately, since the filter began to be applied, certain offences are now not being disclosed.
Convictions for motoring offences and most public order offences will not be disclosed where they are over seven years old. This occurs even where more recent offences have been committed.
If an individual has a District Court conviction for any other minor offence, and it is the only conviction that individual has (excluding public order and road traffic offences over seven years old) then that offence will also not be disclosed.
If any individual has been provided with the benefit of the Probation Act, this too will not be disclosed except in cases where the circumstances of the offence gives rise to a bona fide concern that the person concerned may harm a child or vulnerable person
Any convictions involving offences against a person, offences of a sexual nature and any conviction on indictment will still be disclosed.
Details from the Garda Website on the issue can be found here.
The implementation of this filter is a positive step to alleviating the disproportionate punishment a conviction can have on an individual’s life many years after being convicted. This filter will hopefully become the initial step to addressing and finding a solution to the question of how long must a person be punished for even after they are convicted and serve their sentence? In time it is hoped legislation will be published to deal with the issue of spent convictions; in the meantime, this advancement in policy is to be broadly welcomed.