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Orders to stop convicted sex offenders from contacting victims begin today

Today sees the start of harassment orders against convicted sex offenders.

It means courts can impose orders prohibiting sex offenders from contacting or approaching their victims.

Breaking the order is now an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to five years.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan says it is an important step to help protect those who have suffered from sexual offences from being victimised further by their attackers.

The Minister said: “Breach of these orders will be an offence punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years.

"I hope this measure will help bring some peace of mind to victims in the potentially traumatic period around the release of their attacker."

Harassment orders may prohibit the offender from communicating by any means with the victim or from approaching within a distance specified by the court of the victim’s home, workplace or any other place frequented by the victim as the court deems appropriate.

Orders can be imposed at the time of the offender’s sentence, where the sentence includes a term of imprisonment, or at any time before the offender’s release from prison, including time for remission.

The orders may be made within 12 months of the date of the offender's release from prison.