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Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides various measures that enable the police in England and Wales to monitor and manage sex offenders living in the local area.

Notification Requirements: The “sex offenders register”

Certain sex offenders are required to notify the police of personal information such as their name, address and bank and credit card details, and to update the police whenever this information changes.  The police record of this information is commonly referred to as the “sex offenders register”. There is no general public access to the “sex offenders register”. The child sex offender dislcosure scheme allows parents, carers and guardians to formally ask the police to tell them if someone has a record for child sexual offences.  

The notification requirements are imposed automatically on offenders convicted of certain offences in the UK, but can also be imposed by way of court order on offenders convicted overseas.  The notification requirements are imposed for a fixed or indefinite period, depending on the sentence received.  The penalties for breaching notification requirements range from a fine to imprisonment for up to five years. 

Those offenders subject to an indefinite notification period can apply to the police for a determination that they no longer pose a risk and should no longer be on the register.  The earliest point at which such an application can be made is 15 years after the date of the offender’s first notification (or eight years, for those aged under 18 when convicted).

Sexual Harm Prevention Orders and Sexual Risk Orders

There are other civil orders available to manage sex offenders and those who pose a risk of harm: Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPOs) and Sexual Risk Orders (SROs).  These orders can place a range of restrictions on individuals depending on the nature of the case, such as limiting their internet use or preventing travel abroad.  The penalties for breach range from a fine to imprisonment for up to five years.

These orders have replaced, in England and Wales, the civil orders that were previously available (namely Sexual Offences Prevention Orders, Foreign Travel Orders, and Risk of Sexual Harm Orders).


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