Tougher sentencing for burglars comes into force

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

A law introducing tougher sentences and bail conditions for convicted burglars was commenced over the weekend, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has announced.

The Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwelling) Act 2015 has come into force, providing that custodial sentences for multiple burglary offences should be imposed consecutively and previous burglary convictions should be considered for the purposes of bail applications.

Ms Fitzgerald said the new law would provide “an important additional layer of support” to gardaí carrying out Operation Thor, a multi-strand national anti-crime and anti-burglary operation.

Ms Fitzgerald said: “Burglary of a person’s home is a heinous crime and traumatic for every victim.

“This important new Act targets repeat burglars. It will help keep repeat burglars off the streets and improve the safety of our communities. The Act allows for bail to be denied, and consecutive sentences to be given, to repeat burglars.”

The law places a requirement on courts which decide to impose prison sentences for multiple burglary offences to impose them consecutively.

Meanwhile, the sentencing court will retain discretion on whether or not to impose a custodial sentence, and the duration of the sentence for each offence.

Deirdre Malone, executive director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, has voiced concern about the sentencing provisions.

Ms Malone said: “Whenever you impose mandatory sentences it almost always results in some injustice.”

Ms Fitzgerald added: “I am prioritising efforts to tackle Ireland’s hardened cohort of repeat offenders. Tackling repeat offending will reduce crime levels and this new act is an important step forward.”

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