Sex Offenders Register
Established as a safeguard for children and adults, the Sex Offenders Register is a list of individuals who have been cautioned or convicted since 1997 of a sexual offence against children or adults.
The Register originates from the Sex Offenders Act 1997 but has since been amended to the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The Sex Offenders Register does not cover anyone convicted for any sexual offences before 1997.
Once an individual has been convicted for an offence, they must register with the police within three days of their conviction or release from custody. The courts will provide notification to the police, prison and probation service once the offender has been released which will enable the relevant authorities to regularly monitor the individual.
When an offender is registered with the police they must provide;
- Their name or any other name that they are known by
- Address(es) where they normally reside
- Date of Birth
- National Insurance Number
- Passport Details
- Bank Account Information
- Fingerprints and Photograph
If the individual fails to sign the Sex Offenders Register within the three day period this is a criminal offence and can result in imprisonment.
Once the convicted sex offender has been released from prison and they have completed the initial registration with the police, they must continue to register on a yearly basis. If they change their name or address they must notify the police within three days and if they are spending more than seven days away from home whether this is in the UK or overseas, they must also notify police within three days.
Length of Registration
The amount of time that an individual will remain on the sex offenders register often depends on the offence and the sentence.
The length of time that the individual will have to remain on the register is calculated in a number of ways;
- If the prison sentence was life, more than 30 months or the individual was admitted to hospital under a restriction order, they will be on the register for life
- If the individual has been in prison for more than 6 months but less than 30 months they will be placed on the register for 10 years
- Prison sentences of 6 months or less will result in the individual being listed on the register for 7 years
- If an individual has been cautioned, they will be placed on the register for 2 years.
Each time an offender registers with the police they are permitted to photograph the offender. This will make information exchanges easier and can track offenders and their movements and information can be logged on a national database which can help.
In addition, the police can apply for a Sex Offences Order where registered sex offenders are barred from certain areas or activities where children may be present. Breach of this order is an offence.
Individuals who are thought to be a high risk can be subject to more intense surveillance including electronic tagging and will involve partnership working with several agencies including public protection, probation service, police, social services and any other agencies as required. Offenders have to abide by very strict conditions and any breach is a criminal offence.
When an individual is placed on the register a number of agencies will be notified in the strictest of confidence including;
- Head Teachers
- Youth and Sports Club Leaders
- Housing Authorities
Sexual Offences Prevention Order SOPO
A Sexual Offences Prevention Order or SOPO is a civil order which can be issued by the Magistrates or Crown Court. These can be issued at the time of sentencing or when a complaint has been made to the court about someone previously convicted of an offence and who is considered to be at risk of reoffending.
The purpose of the SOPO is to safeguard the public or an individual from serious sexual harm by the defendant. A SOPO can only be issued against an offender who has been convicted of particular offences. The order can include a number of different clauses including;
- Preventing the defendant from approaching by any means or associating with any person under the age of 18 years unless they have been authorised to do so
- The defendant must not stay in areas such as children’s playgrounds
- The defendant cannot enter any school, college or university without the written permission of the Chief Constable of the local policing area.
SOPOs contain prohibitions which are necessary to protect the public and they can last for at least five years or for a specific period of time or even indefinitely until a further order is sought. If the individual breaches the order in any way they can face up to five years in prison.
Once the defendant has been convicted and placed on the Register, the Chief Police Officer for the local policing area can make an application to the Magistrates to obtain an SOPO. Applications can only be made however if the defendant has displayed behaviour which indicated that such an order would be required.
High Risk Offenders
Some offenders who are due to be released from prison may be considered to be a high risk and like the SOPO the police can request that further checks on the individual are carried out. A MAPPA agreement can be put in place.
A MAPPA, Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangement will establish strong partnerships with multiple agencies such as the police, prison service, social work teams and other authorities depending on the individual to closely monitor them when they re-enter the local community.
When a Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangement is created, a decision will be reached on how and when the movements of the offender will be monitored and this will be decided by the police and social work teams. Any decisions that they reach to disclose the movements of the offender will be established based on a thorough risk assessment. This assessment will carefully consider the consequences of disclosure to all those concerned including the offender and their family.
DBS Checks and Barred Lists
Certain jobs that require employees to work with children or adults may require an enhanced DBS check which includes a search of the barred lists. These lists will identify any individual who is not suitable to work with children and adults.
Furthermore, people on barred lists are prevented from certain types of work and it is against the law for an employer to allow an individual on this list to work or volunteer with children or adults if they know they are on one of the barred lists.
Monitoring Sex Offenders
Revised legislation and tighter rules now means that it is much easier for police to locate known sex offenders. After release several agencies as outlined above will be notified and the police now have greater powers to search the homes of known sex offenders if they have reasonable cause.
As the police are now able to access more information about the offender it is easier for the police to keep track of those offenders who would otherwise ‘disappear’ or try to evade the relevant agencies who are responsible for them such as social workers and probation.
If the individual has been convicted of an offence abroad whether they are a British citizen or foreign national, they must register with the police just as they would if the offence had been committed in the UK.
Sex Offenders Register Database
This is an important tool for the police and individuals convicted or cautioned for a sexual offence should be registered on the system. A new intelligence database known as ViSOR police forces can access a detailed collection of data which allows them to make a more accurate decision on assessing the risk posed by the offender.