Dáil to debate tougher sentences for burglars

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald TD
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald TD

The Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Bill 2015, which proposes tougher sentences and bail conditions for convicted burglars, will be debated by Dáil Éireann tomorrow.

The bill, which was published earlier this month, will go before TDs for a debate of its general principles and a vote on its second reading.

If passed into law, the bill would require custodial sentences imposed for multiple burglary offences to be imposed consecutively. It also requires that previous burglary convictions are considered for the purposes of bail applications.

The bill emerged from a review of the criminal justice system’s response to the problem of burglaries, which was initiated by Ms Fitzgerald earlier this year.

The review highlighted that a significant number of burglaries are committed by a small number of offenders, and targeting these has the potential to significantly reduce offending.

Earlier this month, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: “This new Bill is targeted at those repeat burglars who have previous convictions who are charged with multiple offences of residential burglary.

“Figures from the Garda Síochána Analysis Service indicate that 75 per cent of burglaries are committed by 25 per cent of burglars. Targeting this cohort of repeat offenders has the potential to significantly reduce the number of burglaries being committed.

“This Bill is designed to keep repeat burglars off the streets and to improve the safety of our communities.”

Ms Fitzgerald also announced this week that An Garda Síochána will use €2 million of new surveillance equipment to crack down on burglars.

Infra-red technology and other surveillance equipment will be purchased for the Garda Air Support Unit to replace existing equipment, some of which is up to 20 years old.

The police force was earlier allocated €700,000 the purchase of specialist vehicles to support operations tackling highly-mobile criminal gangs, including those involved in burglaries.

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