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Department of Justice publishes research papers to examine different approaches to Spent Convictions

-Reports examine relevant legislation around Spent Convictions in other jurisdictions and academic research in the area

Today, the Department of Justice has published two research papers in the area of Spent Convictions. These reports will assist in the development of the most balanced Spent Convictions policy in Ireland, in line with international best practice.   


Last week, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee announced details of a public consultation (details in Notes for Editors) on Spent Convictions policy which is now underway. As part of this consultation, the Department is publishing these research reports which examine what actions other jurisdictions are taking as well as considering the current status of spent convictions policy in Ireland.


A spent conviction is a conviction that, when it meets defined criteria, does not legally have to be disclosed in certain circumstances, the most common of which is when a person seeks new employment.


The rationale for a spent conviction legislative regime is rooted in the principles of rehabilitative justice and the generally accepted acknowledgement that, after a certain period of a time, individuals deserve a ‘second chance’ and the opportunity to move on without having to disclose a past minor criminal conviction.


These newly published research papers provide an examination of spent convictions focusing on two separate areas. 


The first paper summarises the legislative and policy approaches to spent convictions in several common and civil law jurisdictions, specifically New Zealand, Australia, England and Wales, Sweden and the Netherlands. The paper includes


·         Detail of the specific criteria required for a conviction to be spent,

·         the associated vetting architecture and

·         any recent changes to approaches in these jurisdictions.


The second paper is based on a rapid evidence review of academic literature on the theme of spent convictions. It covers a number of core themes including


·         the impact of spent conviction regimes on reintegration into society,

·         the importance of proportionality in any legislative criteria and

·         differing approaches to the disclosure of criminal records and its impact.


Internationally, a number of jurisdictions have taken varied approaches to spent convictions legislation, the supporting policy and vetting architecture. It is important to note that these jurisdictions were selected to provide both comparability and contrast to Ireland. Individual jurisdictions have regimes with differing levels of complexity, with some having implemented recent reform initiatives, and those jurisdictions are of interest from a policy development perspective. 


The research reports on Spent Convictions can be read here: