SEX OFFENDER NOTIFICATION
VIOLENT OFFENDER ORDERS
PROPOSALS FOR LEGISLATION
A CONSULTATION PAPER
Public Protection Unit
Justice Policy Directorate
Department of Justice
2. How to respond
CHANGING THE LAW TO MEET OBLIGATIONS
3. Review mechanism for indefinite notification
4. Amendment to Schedule 4 to the Sexual Offences Act 2003
(removing notification for abolished homosexual offences)
following the Sexual Offences (NI) Order 2008.
STRENGHENING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF NOTIFICATION
5. Notification of all foreign travel
6. Arrangements for offenders where they have no fixed abode
7. Offenders living in a household where there is a child under 18
8. Offenders to notify additional personal details
9. Provisions for sexual offences prevention orders (SOPOs)
10. Travel within the UK
11. Notification for offenders convicted outside the UK
12. Violent offender orders (VOOs)
13. Resourcing, equality and next steps
Annex A - Review of sex offender indefinite notification: arrangements
in other jurisdictions
Annex B – Violent offender orders in England and Wales
1.1 This consultation document seeks views on a number of proposed
changes to the law on notification requirements for sex offenders (‘the sex
offender register’) and on measures to better protect the public from the risk
posed by violent offenders.
1.2 The proposed changes would: introduce a mechanism to allow
offenders subject to notification for an indefinite period to apply for a review
after a certain amount of time in the community (this change is made
necessary by a Supreme Court ruling on compliance with human rights
obligations); strengthen public protection through additional notification
requirements; amend the law to allow for removal of notification where
offences have been abolished, and introduce orders to more effectively
manage risk from violent offenders.
2. HOW TO RESPOND
2.1 This consultation document seeks views on proposed changes to the
law on notification requirements for sex offenders.
2.2 Comments are invited on any aspect of the proposal. Please send
your response in writing to:-
Department of Justice
Public Protection Unit
Or by email to:
Tel: 028 90523659/90527511
2.3 Views are also welcome on the implications of implementation of the
proposals on equality of opportunity for all groups under Section 75 of the
Northern Ireland Act 1998.
2.4 Written comments should be submitted by post or e-mail to arrive no
later than 5 October 2011.
2.5 Supporting equality screening documentation is also available on the
Department’s website: www.dojni.gov.uk under Public Consultation.
2.6 These documents, which are only being published on the Department’s
website, can be made available in different formats, listed below for those
individuals with particular needs, on request. Hard copies will be posted on
request. A text phone facility is also available by phoning: 028 90527668.
2.7 This document can be made available in alternative formats including:-
To request an alternative format, please contact the Public Protection Unit at
the address provided above.
Confidentiality of Responses
2.8 A summary of responses will be published following the completion of
the consultation process. Unless individual respondents specifically indicated
that they wish their response to be treated in confidence, the nature of their
response may be included in any published summary of responses.
Respondents should also be aware that our obligations under the Freedom of
Information Act may require that any responses, not subject to specific
exemptions in the Act, may be disclosed to other parties on request.
2.9 If you have any questions concerning the documentation or the
consultation process, you should contact the Department’s consultation co-
ordinator, Mark Higgins on 028 90765784 or email at
Alternatively, you may wish to write to the address below:
Department of Justice
Central Management Unit
Block A, Level 4
3. REVIEW MECHANISM FOR INDEFINITE NOTIFICATION
This proposal will allow sex offenders who are ‘on the sex offender
register’ for the rest of their life to apply to the police to ‘come off the
register’ after they have been on it for 15 years since leaving prison.
They will only have their names removed if the police are satisfied that
they don’t need to keep the information any more because there is no
longer a risk to the public. The change is being made following a ruling
by the Supreme Court in London that it was against a person’s human
rights not to allow for any review of the indefinite period. The law is
being changed throughout the UK.
What does this mean?
When sex offenders leave prison they have to tell the police where they
are living and other personal details. People commonly call this
‘signing the sex offender register’. From now on in this document it is
called being ‘subject to the sex offender notification requirements’, or
being ‘required to notify’. Some have to notify for a set time and then
the requirement is finished, others who have had a longer sentence for
their offence have to notify for life. The Court ruled that the law is wrong
not to allow for a review of this requirement at some stage.
How will the review work?
When a sex offender has been out of prison for 15 years he can apply to
the police to review his case. If the police think there is no longer any
risk that the offender will harm the public they will tell the person that he
no longer needs to continue providing certain personal information.
However, if the police think that a risk of harm is still present, they will
tell the person that he must continue to notify. The person can then go
to court if he disagrees with the decision and ask them to review his
case. If successful he will not have to notify any more. If not successful
he will have to continue to wait for at least a further 8 years before
applying again for a review.
Does this mean that sex offenders will be able to do what they want?
No. The requirements will only be lifted if there is no longer a risk to the
How do the police know if there is no longer a risk?
They will make a decision based on a thorough assessment of each
case, helped by other agencies which may have an interest like
probation and social services. There is a long list of things that have to
be taken into account, which are listed later on.
3.1 As a result of a UK Supreme Court judgment of incompatibility with
Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the law is
being changed, throughout the UK, to introduce some form of review
mechanism to allow offenders who are subject to an indefinite period of
notification (commonly known as ‘the sex offenders register’) under part two
of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (“the 2003 Act”) to apply to have the
3.2 The Supreme Court made the declaration of incompatibility on 21 April
2010 in R (F and Thompson) v Secretary of State for the Home Department
 UKSC 17, holding that the indefinite notification period prescribed by
section 82 of the 2003 Act for sentences of over 30 months, with no
possibility of review, is incompatible with Article 8 rights.
3.3 Part two of the 2003 Act sets out the detail of notification requirements
for sex offenders. Section 80 of the 2003 Act provides that persons convicted
of an offence listed in Schedule 3 are subject to the notification requirements.
Those requirements are also automatically imposed by section 80 on those
who, in respect of a Schedule 3 offence, are cautioned, found not guilty by
reason of insanity, or found to be under a disability and to have done the act
they are charged with. The notification requirements are not part of the court
order on conviction but rather a statutory obligation placed on the offender as
a consequence of conviction.
3.4 Section 82 of the 2003 Act prescribes the notification periods. These
depend on the disposal to which the offender is subject and range from an
indefinite period, for someone sentenced to a term of 30 months or more, to a
period of 2 years for a person who receives a caution. The period begins on
the date of conviction or caution (“the relevant date”).
3.5 The offender must make his initial notification within 3 days of the
relevant date. But time spent in custody or out of the United Kingdom is
disregarded in calculating the 3 day period. The Act also provides the details
which the offender must notify on initial notification. The offender is required
to notify any changes to the information provided in the initial notification
within 3 days of the change occurring and must reconfirm his details within 12
months of the last notification. Offenders must give advance notification of
travel outside the UK.
3.6 It is an offence to fail without reasonable excuse to comply with any of
the notification requirements. The offence is punishable on indictment by
imprisonment for up to 5 years and on summary conviction by imprisonment
for up to 6 months.
The notification period
3.7 The Act provides detail in table form of the periods of notification which
attach to an offender based on the length and type of disposal. The shortest
period of 2 years is in respect of a caution. All other non custodial disposals
attract 5 years. Custodial sentences of up to 6 months attract 7 years, up to
30 months 10 years and over 30 months an indefinite period.
3.8 It is this indefinite period which the Supreme Court found to be
incompatible with Article 8 without any opportunity for the offender to have
the period reviewed.
3.9 F and Thompson are both convicted sex offenders subject to the
notification requirements. Both brought claims for judicial review claiming
that the absence of a right of review of the requirements breached their right
to privacy protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human
3.10 The Supreme Court held unanimously that the absence of a review
mechanism under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 does render the indefinite
notification requirements incompatible with Article 8 of the ECHR. You can
read the judgement in full at http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/decided-
The response in other jurisdictions
3.11 Scotland was the first to take action to remedy the incompatibility. An
urgent remedial order, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Remedial) (Scotland)
Order 2010 (SSI 2010/370) under section 12 of the Convention Rights
(Compliance) (Scotland) Act 2001 was made and laid on 25 October 2010.
The Order came into force immediately, after which there was a 60 day
consultation period. Following this period, the Scottish Government published
a consultation report and an amended Order was made in January 2011.
3.12 The Home Office are also intending to legislate for England and Wales
by way of a remedial order. A proposal for a draft order was laid in June 2011
which will introduce a review mechanism on similar lines, although with some
differences, to Scotland.
3.13 Policy on the detail of the mechanism for review is a matter for each
administration. A comparison of the responses in the three jurisdictions is
outlined in table form below and details of the systems in Scotland and the
proposals for E&W are given at annex A. You can read about the full
proposals for England and Wales on the Home Office website at
Proposal for Northern Ireland
3.14 The proposal would enable notified offenders to apply, following a set
time, to be discharged from the requirement to notify. The legislative provision
would allow for the following review procedure.
Process of the review
3.15 It is proposed that any offender who is required to notify for an
indefinite period, would be entitled to apply to the police, to be discharged
from their indefinite notification requirements. The application could not be
made until 15 years from the date of initial notification. This period would be
reduced to 8 years from the date of initial notification if the offender was under
18 at the date of conviction. This is the same as the rest of the UK.
Basis of review decision
3.16 The police will not discharge the requirement to notify if they are
satisfied that the offender continues to pose a risk of sexual harm to the
public, or any particular members of the public, in the United Kingdom.
3.17 The police will take into account the factors set out below in reaching a
decision to remove or retain the notification requirement:
• The seriousness of the offence which made the offender subject to
• The period of time lapsed since the offence (or offences);
• Where the offender falls within section 81(1) or is subject to a
notification order under section 97(5), whether the offender committed
any offence under section 3 of the 1997Act;(notification offences)
• whether the offender has committed any offence under section 91 of
the 2003 Act (notification offences);
• The age of the offender at time of the review;
• The age of the offender at time of original offence (or offences);
• The age of the victim and difference in age between victim and
offender at time offence committed;
• Any convictions or findings / cautions / un-concluded criminal
proceedings for any other offence listed in Schedule 3;
• Any assessment of the risk posed by the offender which has been
made by any of the agencies within the framework of the public
protection arrangements established under Part 3 of the Criminal
Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2008;
• Any other information relating to the risk of sexual harm posed by the
offender to the public, or any particular members of the public, in the
• Any information presented by or on behalf of the offender which
demonstrates that the offender does not pose a risk of sexual harm to
the public, or any particular members of the public, in the United
• Any other matter which the chief constable considers to be appropriate.
3.18 These factors are similar to those in the Scottish remedial order, and
the proposal for England and Wales. There are, however, two additional
criteria proposed for England and Wales. They are a requirement for the
Chief Constable to consider:
(i) any evidence put forward by a victim of the offence which gave rise to the
indefinite notification requirements;
(ii) any convictions or findings made by a court in Scotland, Northern Ireland
or countries outside the United Kingdom in respect of the qualifying relevant
offender for any other offence listed in Schedule 5 where the behaviour of the
qualifying relevant offender since the date of such conviction or finding
indicates a risk of sexual harm.
3.19 We had not included these criteria in our original proposals. We were
content to rely on the more general provision in the draft legislation which
allows the Chief Constable to take account of any other information relating to
the risk of sexual harm posed by the offender to the public, or any particular
members of the public, in the United Kingdom. Both of these more specific
factors would certainly not be excluded under the general provision, however,
it is whether or not it should be deemed essential for the Chief Constable to
actively solicit this information in order for it to feature in making a decision on
3.20 We have also not included any reference to the commission of
offences under Schedule 5 of the SOA 2003. The police are content that
information relating to subsequent offending of whatever nature, and
wherever it occurred, would be a part of the assessment of risk that would
determine whether or not the requirements were discharged.
Notifying offender of decision
3.21 The police will communicate a decision on the application to the
offender within 12 weeks of receipt of the application. A decision to discharge
the offender from notification will be effective from the date it is served on the
If the police decide not to discharge the offender from notification they must
inform the offender that he may make a further application for discharge after
a certain period. They will also inform the offender that he may apply to the
Crown Court for an order to remove the notification requirements.
Availability of further review
3.22 An offender will be entitled to make a further application for discharge if
his initial application is refused. In the proposals which were considered by
the previous Assembly, the period was set at 5 years. We are now proposing
that this period is amended, in line with proposals for England and Wales, to
allow for a further application, usually after an eight year period has expired
from the date of service of the notice to continue notification, but that this
period can be extended by the police for up to 15 years in certain
circumstances as defined in guidance.
Application to the court
3.23 If a police decision is made to continue the notification requirements,
an offender may apply to the Crown Court to discharge notification. The court
will hear the application and base its decision on the same factors as the chief
constable, namely the court will order discharge unless it is satisfied that the
applicant poses a risk of sexual harm to the public, based on the criteria and
factors listed above. It may grant the application and order discharge or
uphold the police decision.
3.24 We have included this process because we believe that without it we
risk a further legal challenge that our law is incompatible with Article 6 of the
ECHR, the right to a fair and public hearing before an independent and
impartial tribunal. All three jurisdictions recognise this risk and deal with it on
the basis of their own jurisdictional requirements – in E&W they are proposing
to leave that to judicial review, in Scotland there is a statutory route to the
Sheriff Court. In our case, we consider the Crown Court route to be an
appropriate and practical response. The judge must reach a decision on the
same basis as the chief constable. We continue to support this provision, as
do the police, over the judicial review option likely to be used in England and
3.25 This proposal meets the requirement of the Supreme Court judgement
and will not have a negative impact on public protection. The provision will
allow for an application to be made seeking review of an indefinite period of
notification. It will not allow for any removal of notification in cases
where there is a continuing risk of harm presented by the offender. The
changes will provide a similar review mechanism to all other UK jurisdictions.
See table below:
Feature Northern Ireland England and Scotland
Initial review 15 years 15 years 15 years
period (8 if under 18 at (8 if under 18 at (8 if under 18 at
time of conviction) time of conviction) time of conviction)
Review by application by application by police
Discharge of SOPO Discharge of SOPO
pre-requisite to pre-requisite to
E&W have 2
Review factors Identical to Scotland additional factors – Identical to NI
(i) submission from
a victim of the
offence, and (ii) any
Decision making Police assisted by Police assisted by Police assisted by
body PPANI agencies MAPPA agencies, MAPPA agencies
(public protection but statutory duty (multi agency public
arrangements for placed on those protection
Northern Ireland) agencies to give arrangements)
relevant info to
Court process Can apply to the No statutory avenue Can apply to the
Crown Court for of appeal. Ordinary Sheriff Court for
order to discharge principles of judicial an order to
review will apply. discharge or vary
the review period.
Police or offender
can appeal decision
to Sheriff Principal
Further review 8 years extendable Police have
period 8 years extendable to 15 discretion up to 15
to 15 years, which can be
3.26 We recommend that a review mechanism is provided as outlined
4. AMENDMENT TO SCHEDULE 4 TO THE SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT
2003 (REMOVING NOTIFICATION FOR ABOLISHED HOMOSEXUAL
OFFENCES) FOLLOWING THE SEXUAL OFFENCES (NI) ORDER 2008.
There is a need to change the law to allow individuals who are subject to
the notification requirements as a result of an offence which is now no
longer an offence to apply to have the requirements removed. The
offences include consensual sex with a girl or boy aged 16 or over.
What does it mean?
It means that anyone who is still required to notify to the police because
of sexual behaviour which gave rise to an offence in the past but which
is no longer illegal behaviour will be able to apply to have the
4.1 Schedule 4 to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 currently provides a
procedure for ending notification requirements for abolished homosexual
offences. This provision was put in place by the Sexual Offences Act 2003
because of previous changes to the law in England and Wales which removed
any criminality from homosexual relations where the individuals were over 16.
There was a recognition that it was wrong to have someone remain subject to
continuing notification where the behaviour which led to that notification was
no longer a criminal offence. The Act also made similar arrangements for
Northern Ireland in respect of consensual homosexual offences if the
individuals were over 17.
4.2 The current provision as it applies to Northern Ireland allows for a
person who was convicted/cautioned etc for an offence of buggery or
indecency between males to apply to have any notification period removed if it
is proved that the act was consensual and the person was 17 or over.
The Sexual Offences Order
4.3 The Sexual Offences (NI) Order 2008 then made a further change to
the law by introducing gender neutral offences which only apply to sexual
activity with a person under the age of 16. This change to the ‘age of consent’
meant that a consequential amendment was required to Schedule 4 to the
SOA to allow for removal of the ending of notification requirements in respect
of offences where the other party had been 16 instead of 17. This would also
entail the removal of the word ‘homosexual’ from the title of the Schedule.
Unfortunately this was overlooked in the consequential amendments made by
the Order and therefore it is an outstanding flaw which now needs to be fixed.
4.4 A minor amendment is required, which will widen the scope of
Schedule 4 to the 2003 Act and add two further offences (the Article 19
offence of buggery in the Criminal Justice Order 2003 and the offence of
unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 17 in section 5 of the Criminal
Law Amendment Act 1885) and change when an application can be
made from cases where the other party to the (consenting) act was aged
17 or over to where they were aged 16 or over, or where the relevant
offender honestly believed that the other party to the act was aged 16 or
over (ie was convicted and sentenced/cautioned etc for an offence
involving a person over 16, even if, in fact, they were under 16).
4.5 This consultation offers a proposal to make a necessary change to the
5. NOTIFICATION OF ALL FOREIGN TRAVEL
This proposal would require sex offenders who are ‘on the sex offender
register’ to tell the police at a police station every time they intend to
travel outside of the UK. They would have to tell the police where they
were going and for how long. This includes travel to Ireland.
What does this mean?
At the minute notified sex offenders have to tell police if they intend to
travel outside of the UK for more than 3 days. This proposal would
extend that requirement to include telling the police about travel for less
than three days as well.
5.1 Under existing legislation, registered sex offenders are required to notify
the police of any travel outside the UK which is for three days or more. This
requirement was introduced by the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Travel
Notification Requirements) Regulations 2004 by virtue of powers under section
86 of the SOA 2003.
5.2 The offender must notify this information no less than seven days before
the date of intended departure (or as soon as reasonably practicable) and not
less than 24 hours before that date.
Proposal in England and Wales
5.3 In E&W the proposal is to amend the existing legislation to require
offenders to notify all foreign travel, so as to allow the police to build a
comprehensive picture of travel by an offender to identify risk. This is considered
to be a proportionate step to ensure that those offenders who seek to use this
legislative gap to commit harm overseas are prevented from doing so.
5.4 This change to the law in E&W would require notification to be made to
the police prior to any travel outside of the UK. As with existing arrangements
whereby travel of three or more days is notified, this would require an offender
to attend their local police station in person to provide the required details
relating to the travel.
5.5 Current legislation means failure to notify foreign travel is not an offence
until a registered sex offender has been out of the UK for three days and it is
very difficult for the police to take action until the individual returns to the UK, by
which time he/she may have committed a sexual offence. By making all foreign
travel notifiable the police can, where practicable, arrest at the point of departure
and therefore prevent the risk posed to children abroad.
5.6 The situation regarding foreign travel here is more complicated given
that Northern Ireland is the only UK jurisdiction with a land border. This
means that travel to another state for very short periods is a much more
common occurrence and would pose severe problems in terms of a
requirement to notify the police every time an offender decided to cross the
border. Indeed it would be almost impossible to police such a requirement
and would place a huge burden on the police, particularly at police stations
near to the border where there is likely to be much movement between the
states by offenders on legitimate business.
5.7 We are therefore seeking views on an alternative proposal which may
provide further assistance to police in managing risk from offenders who
travel. It would require offenders who live in Northern Ireland to notify the
police of travel outside of the UK two days or more as opposed to the present
three days, and to notify in advance any known recurring commitment to
travel regularly to a jurisdiction outside of the UK either due to employment or
family connections, in addition to the requirement to notify travel of at least
5.8 Our recommendation is to introduce an amendment to the
relevant legislation that would require:
• Any individual who is subject to the notification requirements
under Part 2 of the 2003 Act, in addition to notifying travel of more
than two days outside of the UK to notify the police of any
recurring commitment to travel outside of the UK where the travel
is necessary for work, is business related or as a result of family
5.9 This consultation seeks views on how these requirements may be
introduced to ensure that the police have the information they need to
manage sex offenders effectively, whilst ensuring that the additional burden is
kept to a minimum and does not constitute an excessive burden on those
required to comply with the new notification requirements.
6. ARRANGEMENTS TO REQUIRE OFFENDERS TO NOTIFY WEEKLY
OF WHERE THEY CAN BE FOUND IF THEY HAVE NO FIXED ABODE
This proposal would mean that any sex offender subject to notification
who is homeless or doesn’t have a permanent residence would have to
tell the police every week, instead of annually or when a change
occurred, details of a place or location where he could regularly be
found for the next 7 days.
What does this mean?
The purpose of the law is to ensure that sex offenders can’t escape
telling the police where they live by claiming they are homeless. If they
say they are spending nights sleeping rough then they have to say
where and the police will check to make sure that they are there. If they
aren’t, they could be committing an offence with a maximum penalty of 5
years. The proposal tightens this law to make offenders report to the
police on a weekly basis to confirm details of where they are staying.
6.1 Under Part 2 of the SOA 2003, where a registered sex offender has no sole
or main residence, they must notify the police of a place where they can regularly
be found. They must do this on initial notification and thereafter annually, as part of
their periodic notification or whenever their details change.
6.2 This proposal is to amend existing legislation to require notified sex
offenders who have no sole or main residence to notify weekly to the police.
Currently, approximately 2% of the registered sex offender population in E&W are
recorded as having no fixed abode. In Northern Ireland the figure is even smaller.
6.3 The proposed change should have a relatively small impact on police
resources but will allow the police to have greater contact with this very small
number of offenders and be better placed to assess their risk. It is expected that
this change will also encourage notified sex offenders to provide the police with a
fixed address, where there is one available, rather than face the increased
inconvenience of weekly reporting.
6.4 It is expected that the additional police resource required to complete
weekly notification will be offset by the saving to police time in investigating the
whereabouts of such offenders who have failed to comply with the notification
requirements. It will ensure that the police can establish a comprehensive picture
of the whereabouts of such offenders to enable them to manage more effectively
the risk posed by such individuals.
6.5 It is acknowledged that this proposal will introduce an additional burden on
the small number of sex offenders who are unable to provide the police with a
fixed, permanent address, and where they instead provide details of a place where
they regularly reside or stay.
6.6 We recommend amending the relevant legislation to require:
• Any individual who is subject to the notification requirements
under Part 2 of the 2003 Act, to notify weekly where their most
recent notification is of a place at which they regularly reside or
stay and not the address of their sole or main residence.
Within this we are giving consideration to introducing:
• An amended notifications form to include a section to capture that
‘details remain the same as last week’. It is considered that this would
ensure that despite the increased frequency, notifications could be
processed quickly and would be less resource intensive than the
periodic (annual) notification.
6.7 This consultation invites views and comments on this proposal, including
how to make the process as simple as possible.
7. ARRANGEMENTS TO REQUIRE OFFENDERS TO NOTIFY IF THEY
ARE LIVING IN A HOUSEHOLD WHERE THERE IS A CHILD UNDER 18
This proposal would require notified sex offenders to tell the police if
they are staying in a house where there is a child or children under 18.
What does it mean?
It means that notified sex offenders would have to tell the police if they
were planning to stay in a house with children, or if children come to
stay in a house where they live or reside. This would allow the police to
assess if there was a risk to the children and to take action to prevent
7.1 There is no requirement under existing legislation for notified sex offenders
to tell the police when they are residing or staying in a house where there is a child
under the age of 18. The police consider that a requirement to do this would
ensure that they are better able to identify and focus resources on preventing
harm to children who may be at risk from an offender. It is recognised that this
policy would require individuals to notify residence with their own child.
7.2 It is our view that introducing this additional requirement would add very
little burden, either to sex offenders or to police forces. In the majority of
circumstances, this information would be provided to the police at the initial or
periodic notification or will be provided when an offender changes address (details
of which must already be notified to the police). Currently, only addresses at which
an offender resides or stays for seven days or more within a 12 month period will
be notified to the police. This new provision would require notification of residence
with a minor for any period, including notification of addresses where an offender
may be staying temporarily and for a short period (including of less than 7 days).
This information would help the police to identify individuals who might be at risk
from an offender at any particular address and will prevent offenders who may
seek to exploit current provisions to spend short periods of time at an address with
children, without this information being notified to the police or breaching
requirements. It is considered that this is a proportionate step to protect those
children who may be at risk of serious harm.
7.3 We recommend an amendment to existing legislation to require that:
• Where an offender is subject to the notification requirements under
Part 2 of the 2003 Act, and they reside in a household with a child
under the age of 18, this information is notified to the police as part of
their initial/periodic notification or whenever their details /
7.4 This consultation seeks views on whether this is considered a proportionate
means by which the police can gain information to enable them to intervene in
cases where children may be at risk.
8. OFFENDERS TO NOTIFY ADDITIONAL PERSONAL/IDENTIFICATION
This proposal would require sex offenders subject to notification to give
the police information about their passports, bank accounts and credit
cards and to produce some form of identification at every notification.
What does it mean?
It means that the police will be better able to trace sex offenders who
don’t comply with the requirements and investigate offences of
accessing indecent images, where credit card payments have been
involved. Passport numbers would help the police to trace offenders
who travel overseas.
8.1 Section 91 of the SOA 2003 provides that it is an offence for a notified
sex offender to fail without reasonable excuse to notify the police of any
change to their personal details, including a change of name. This is
punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment.
8.2 England and Wales propose to extend the list of information which
must be provided to the police to include requiring an offender to provide
passport details, details of any bank account or credit card held with a
banking institution, and to provide a valid form of identification upon
8.3 These requirements are already law in Scotland, which, through the
Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 and the Sexual
Offences Act 2003 (Notification Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2007,
already requires offenders to notify passport and bank account and credit card
8.4 Introducing these requirements in Northern Ireland would ensure a
consistent approach across the UK.
Bank account details, credit cards and passport details
8.5 In addition to strengthening identification provisions and providing
valuable information to the police when tracing missing sex offenders,
requiring notified sex offenders to provide bank account details would assist
the police in investigating offences of accessing indecent images, where
credit card payments have been involved. And passport numbers would assist
the police in monitoring offenders who travel overseas.
8.6 It is envisaged that where an offender holds either a British passport,
any passport issued by or on behalf of the authorities of a country outside the
UK, or by or on behalf of an international organisation, or a document that can
be used instead of a passport, details of that document would be provided to
8.7 Similarly, under the proposed new provisions an offender would be
required to notify the police of details of any banking institution or credit card
provider with which they hold an account, including: the name of each
institution with whom the relevant offender holds an account, the address of
the office at which each account is maintained, the number of each account
and the sort code in relation to each account.
Requirement for sex offenders to produce identification upon notification
8.8 Under existing arrangements the police are able to verify the identity of
an offender in a number of ways. Section 87 of the 2003 Act provides that, if
requested, an offender must provide their fingerprints and allow a photograph
(or both) for the purposes of verifying the identity of that offender.
8.9 The police have the power to do this on initial notification, on each
periodic notification or on a notification of change of details. However, where
an offender is known to the officer completing the notification and their
appearance has not changed significantly from their previous notification it
may not be deemed necessary at every notification. It is our view that a
requirement to produce identification documentation at each notification would
provide an additional safeguard to the police.
8.10 We recommend introducing an amendment to the relevant
legislation that would require:
• Any individual who is subject to the notification requirements
under Part 2 of the 2003 Act to notify the police of passport
details, bank account details and credit card details;
• Provide a specified form of identification upon each notification.
8.11 This consultation seeks views on whether the introduction of a
requirement to produce documentation at each notification would assist the
police in verifying the identification of that individual.
8.12 It also seeks views on how the introduction of the additional
requirements will achieve the intended policy aim of ensuring that the police
have the right information available to them to identify and control offenders
seeking to evade detection by exploiting change of name processes.
9. EXTENSION OF SOPO PROVISIONS TO INCLUDE POSITIVE ACTIONS
NOT JUST PROHIBITIVE CONDITIONS
The proposal would allow the courts to include in a sexual offences
prevention order a requirement for a sex offender to take some specified
action for the purpose of protecting the public from serious sexual
What does it mean?
It means that the court can order an offender to do something, like
provide additional personal information or require him to reside
somewhere, in order to help protect the public.
9.1 Under sections 104 to 113 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, a sexual
offences prevention order (SOPO) is available to the courts to assist in
protecting the public from the risk of serious sexual harm posed by a sex
offender. A court can make an order when the person is convicted of a sexual
offence, on the basis that it is necessary to protect the public from harm. The
police can also apply to the court for an order on a sex offender at a later date
if his behaviour since conviction makes it necessary for the purpose of
protecting the public.
9.2 At the moment the SOPO legislation does not place any responsibility
on the offender to comply with the risk assessment process. An order can
only prohibit the offender from doing anything described in the order. It
cannot require the offender to take any positive actions. For example an
order can prohibit an offender from owning a computer, or drinking alcohol, or
driving a car. It cannot require an offender to comply with risk assessment or
cooperate with a programme. Failure to comply with the prohibitions is a
criminal offence with a maximum penalty of 5 years and with the option of an
extended sentence for public protection.
9.3 In Scotland, Section 100 (2)(c) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing
Act 2010 inserted a new section 111A into the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
New subsections 111A(2)-(3) have the effect of extending the permitted
content of a SOPO, and an interim SOPO, so that the court can impose
requirements as well as such other terms in the order, whether prohibitions,
restrictions, or other terms, as it considers appropriate so as to protect the
public by preventing, restricting or disrupting the involvement of the subject of
the order in sexual crime.
9.4 The police believe that adoption in Northern Ireland of a similar
provision offers the public a higher level of protection. At present the SOPO
only allows the court to prohibit the offender from actions if those prohibitions
are necessary for the purpose of protecting the public from serious harm from
the offender. It does not allow the court to attach positive requirements on the
offender to take particular courses of action, for example to reside at a
particular address or to give additional personal information. The police feel
that this change would allow for a range of more effective measures to be
included within the risk management framework.
9.5 We recommend introducing an amendment to the Sexual
Offences Act 2003 that would
• allow positive requirements to be included within the ambit of a
sexual offences prevention order.
9.6 This consultation seeks views on whether the widening of the scope of
measures within the sexual offences prevention order would assist in the
protection of the public from serious sexual crime and be proportionate to the
management of the risk posed.
10. OFFENDERS TO NOTIFY ALL DETAILS OF TRAVEL WITHIN THE UK
The proposal would require offenders subject to notification to notify
the police of intended travel within the UK of more then three days.
What does it mean?
It means that offenders who travel away from home for more then three
days, within the UK, would have to notify police in advance of their
10.1 The police have asked us to consider the inclusion of a new
requirement on offenders who travel within the UK to notify the police of their
planned whereabouts. Offenders are currently required to notify the police
within three days of staying at a different address for a qualifying period of
seven days or more or two or more periods in any 12 months which, if taken
together, amount to seven days at that address. They must also notify the
police in advance of any planned travel abroad of more than three days.
What they don’t have to notify are periods of travel away from their home
address if they stay within the UK and don’t spend more than seven days at a
particular address. This means that time spent travelling around and using
different B&Bs or a caravan does not need to be notified to the police.
10.2 The police brought this issue to our attention because of an offender
they had difficulty keeping track of who travelled around the UK but didn’t stay
at one address long enough to have to notify under the current qualifying
period of 7 days at another address. There is an argument that legislation on
foreign travel makes it more difficult for offenders to travel abroad to offend,
but does not adequately deal with travelling to offend at home.
10.3 We are therefore proposing to include a suitable amendment
which would require offenders to notify the police of details of travel
within the UK.
10.4 This consultation seeks views on whether the widening of the scope of
the travel notification provision should include offenders who travel within the
UK and are away from their home for more than three days and whether this
would assist in the protection of the public from serious sexual crime and be
proportionate to the management of the risk posed.
11. ARRANGEMENTS FOR NOTIFICATION OF SEX OFFENDERS FROM
JURISDICTIONS OUTSIDE THE UK
11.1 This paper also takes the opportunity to remind readers that a related
consultation was carried out last year in relation to notification arrangements
for offenders who come to Northern Ireland having been convicted of relevant
sexual offences in other jurisdictions outside of the UK.
You can find a copy of the consultation paper and summary of responses on
the Department of Justice website at
11.2 Although we are not reopening the consultation on this issue, which
was fully consulted on previously, we would like to remind readers that it is
another proposal which would sit alongside the measures outlined in this
document. A short summary of what is proposed follows for information.
This proposal is about making it easier for the police to ensure that sex
offenders who come to Northern Ireland from elsewhere face the same
sort of control as sex offenders convicted here.
What does this mean?
It means that an offender who has been convicted of a sex offence
somewhere outside the UK and who comes to stay in Northern Ireland
will have to tell the police where he is living and other personal details
the same way as a sex offender who has been convicted here has to do.
People commonly call this ‘signing the sex offender register’.
Is this different to what happens now?
Yes, just a bit. If someone arrives in Northern Ireland now who has a
conviction for a sex offence elsewhere, the police have to first go to
court and apply for an order (called a notification order) before the
offender is obliged to notify. This process can take time.
How will the new system work?
If a sex offender arrives in Northern Ireland, the law will allow him to
stay for 3 days before he must notify his details to the police. If he
doesn’t do that, he can then be arrested. However, for this to happen,
the police have to know he is in the country.
How will the police know if a sex offender has arrived?
It will depend largely on information being shared by other police
services if they know that an offender is travelling to Northern Ireland.
But there is no guaranteed way to ensure that the police are alerted that
a sex offender has come here.
So why do it?
Because when the police do know, or identify a sex offender from
outside the UK who is already here, it allows them to immediately
ensure that they can obtain details about the person, including where he
is living. It also allows them to take other actions to increase protection
against any risk the person poses to the public.
How will an offender know to register?
They won’t always know, but if the police find them here, they can
immediately be informed and have to notify straight away. It just isn’t
possible to guarantee that all sex offenders who come to Northern
Ireland will be known about - people are free to travel. But this proposal
helps to ensure that when offenders are identified that they are treated
the same way as offenders who have been convicted in Northern
12. VIOLENT OFFENDER ORDERS
The proposal would allow the police to ask the court to make an order to
place conditions on the behaviour of a violent offender in the
community to help manage any risk that the person poses to the public.
It would be very like a sexual offences prevention order. The person
would then be subject to similar notification requirements as many sex
offenders. In other words he would have to tell the police where he was
living, his identity details and tell them if he was intending to travel
outside the UK.
What does it mean?
It means that the police and other agencies would be better able to
manage the risk from certain serious violent offenders.
12.1 The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 introduced violent
offender orders (VOOs) in England and Wales. They are a preventative
measure designed to help mitigate the risk of violent re-offending and to
provide the public with reassurance that they are safer in their communities.
The powers to make orders commenced in July 2009.
12.2 The legislation, however, does not extend to Northern Ireland. A policy
decision was made by Ministers at the time to await the introduction of new
sentencing arrangements in the Criminal Justice (NI) Order 2008 before
looking at the issue. As the revised sentencing regime is now in place, which
replaces automatic remission with release on licence, along with statutory
public protection arrangements (PPANI), which manage risk from both sexual
and violent offenders, it is now appropriate to consider the need for legislation
for violent offender orders.
12.3 Some of the most violent offenders continue to pose a risk of serious
harm to the public even when they are no longer subject to statutory
restrictions available under other conditions of release. In England and
Wales, violent offender orders allow the police, in conjunction with the courts,
to place controls on violent offenders in circumstances where they could
potentially pose the greatest risk to the public. They are used to place
restrictions on those offenders who continue to pose a risk of serious violent
harm to the public even after their release from prison and when their licence
period has expired. There are penalties of up to five years imprisonment for
breach of VOO conditions.
12.4 VOOs are not unlike sexual offences prevention orders (SOPOs),
provided for in the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which offer a similar risk
management tool in respect of sexual offenders. An order can be made by
the court on conviction or by application by the police to a magistrates’ court
in respect of particular behaviour that indicates a risk of serious sexual harm.
These orders can prohibit the offender from doing anything described in the
order and can have effect for a period of 5 years or until further notice.
The Violent Offender Order in England and Wales
12.5 The violent offender order in England and Wales is a civil preventative
order which can place restrictions on offenders who continue to pose a risk of
serious violent harm, by prohibiting behaviour in a limited number of areas:
their access to certain places, premises, events or people to whom they pose
the highest risk.
Proposals for Northern Ireland
12.6 The main policy questions are:
• do we need VOOs in Northern Ireland, and
• if we do, should they differ in any way to those in place in England and
Wales (as described above)?
12.7 The answer to the first question already reflects the same response as
in E&W. The relevant criminal justice agencies here have been consulted and
have similar concerns over their ability to engage with risk posed by violent
offenders, particularly those who are no longer subject to conditions of
release, either on foot of a licence or under probation supervision as part of a
12.8 The existence of sexual offences prevention orders (SOPOs) also
points to a gap in provision for applying the public protection arrangements in
an effective way to violent offenders as against sexual offenders. The SOPO
is now a valued tool in risk management of sex offenders, and it would seem
unlikely that the same would not be true of violent offenders.
12.9 The second question concerns the detail of how the orders would
apply in Northern Ireland. The main criteria for a VOO in E&W are:
• the age of a qualifying offender – over 18
• the length of sentence the person must have served – 12 months
custodial, or a hospital or supervision order
• the offences which he must have a conviction for –
wounding with intent to cause GBH
attempt/conspiracy to murder
the effects are:
• restrictions – only on access to places, premises, events, people
• duration – minimum 2 years to maximum 5 years
• sanction for breach – maximum 5 years
and the procedures:
• application - only by the police to a magistrate’s court
• in force – cannot be made to come into force while the offender is in
prison, subject to a hospital order or supervision order, or subject to
statutory licence conditions made in relation to any offence
12.10 A number of the key stakeholders within the criminal justice system
have already considered the detail of the proposed orders and provided views
on whether the criteria, effect, procedure etc for the orders in England and
Wales are acceptable and worthwhile for introduction to Northern Ireland.
12.11 These views point to a desire to see VOOs introduced quickly and with
a number of changes to the E&W provisions which would make the order
more like a sexual offences prevention order.
12.12 The views expressed include:
• SOPOs can be applied for at the point of sentencing to come into effect
when the offender leaves prison. This should be the same for a VOO.
• Police have powers to enter sex offenders’ homes to carry out a risk
assessment – this should be the same for qualifying offenders with
• The sentence criteria for a VOO should reflect the description of
relevant violent offenders in the PPANI guidance to agencies. For
example consideration should be given to S.47 AOABH where the
context is domestic abuse or against a vulnerable adult or child. It
might also include multiple offences of a lesser nature which would
mean, lowering the sentencing threshold as S.42 only carries 3 months
at a Magistrates Court.
• Restrictions should be similar to SOPOs – directed at managing risks.
• Criteria for a VOO should be offence based rather than sentence
based. Further the minimum qualifying offence should be set at
AOABH. This view is informed by considering the potential of VOOs in
tackling domestic violence. In such cases, a custodial sentence of less
than 12 months is not uncommon; further many of the offences are of
an AOABH nature. To set the criteria at 12 months custodial, and for
serious assaults only, would exclude the use of VOOs in many
domestic violence cases. Further, as one of the aims of VOOs is to
prevent an escalation to serious harm, it would be prudent to set the
offence criteria below serious harm in order to prevent same.
• In relation to the period of eligibility this should be set by the Court, as
opposed to the police reviewing the VOO in six months.
• whilst welcoming the restrictions / prohibitions imposed by a VOO, it is
suggested that the opportunity is taken to expand their remit to include
• SOPOs in Northern Ireland can be made even if the offender is subject
to statutory supervision. The addition of SOPOs to the conditions of
statutory orders has been found to add value in managing cases.
Therefore it is recommended that VOOs could come into force even if
an individual is subject to a licence, supervision order or hospital order.
12.13 The fundamental question in deciding on the introduction of violent
offender orders is to assess whether such provision would increase agencies’
abilities to protect the public by helping to address and manage the risk posed
by more serious violent offenders following the end of their sentence. This
would largely mirror what happens with sex offenders who pose a significant
risk and who are subject to sexual offences prevention orders.
12.14 The Department has already asked the relevant criminal justice
agencies to consider these outline policy proposals and to make a judgment
as to the extent to which they would better manage the risk from violent
offenders by enhancing public protection and decreasing the likelihood of
serious re-offending. The response to that initial consultation was that we
should seek to introduce these orders quickly and with an expanded
framework similar to a SOPO.
12.15 Introducing Violent Offender Orders will ensure that risk from violent
offenders is better managed following the end of their sentence, as currently
happens with sex offenders who are subject to Sexual Offences Prevention
12.16 We recommend introducing violent offender orders.
12.17 This consultation welcomes views on the extent of their application,
taking into account the views expressed by some of the key stakeholders.
13. RESOURCING, EQUALITY AND NEXT STEPS
13.1 The proposal is unlikely to have any major resource implications for the
PSNI. It is anticipated that applications as a result of the review mechanism
will be no more than 20 per year, and probably less than that. Nor is it
anticipated that any of the strengthening measures will present a burden on
the police which will require additional resources.
13.2 This paper sets out broad proposals to introduce a number of changes
to the law on notification for sex offenders and for risk management of violent
13.3 There have been no equality issues identified and an initial pre-policy
equality screening has not identified any other Section 75 impacts
at this stage. However, we would welcome views from respondents who might
identify any area in which they feel the proposal could
have adverse equality impacts.
13.4 The consultation period concludes on 5 October 2011. All responses
should be made to the address identified on page 4 and we welcome
responses in whatever form respondents find most suitable.
Responses will be analysed and a summary of responses published on the
Department’s website. The responses will inform further policy consideration
on the viability of the proposals.
REVIEW OF SEX OFFENDER INDEFINITE NOTIFICATION:
ARRANGEMENTS IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS
The Scottish system
In Scotland, the police must initiate a review in every case where an offender
has a period of indefinite notification. They must then make a decision to
either lift requirements or to order that the notification requirements should
continue. The offender can then appeal the decision to order continuance to
the Sheriff Court. The process is described below in brief.
When an offender who is subject to indefinite notification has been notifying
for the prescribed period (15 years for adults, 8 for children), the police will
carry out a review. A senior police officer will decide (taking into account any
risk assessments carried out through the multi agency public protection
arrangements (MAPPA)) whether individuals need to remain ‘on the register’
because of the risk of sexual harm they pose to the public. If it is decided that
an offender should remain subject to notification, the police will set a period of
up to 15 years until a further review can take place. The police will also
inform the offender of their right to appeal this decision to a Sheriff.
Should the offender wish to challenge the police decision, or the police fail to
complete a review by the expiry of the prescribed period, the offender can
notify the Court. It will then be for a Sheriff to decide, based on a test of ‘risk
of sexual harm’, whether they agree with the case made by the police. If they
do, the offender will remain on notification for a further period of up to 15
years (as ordered by the Court, taking into account a recommendation from
the police). If not, the offender will have the requirements lifted. Both the
police and the offender will be able to appeal the Sheriff’s decision to the
Sheriff Principal, whose decision will be final.
Proposals for England and Wales
In this case, it is proposed that the offender is responsible for initiating a
review. They must apply to the police who will make a decision on whether or
not to lift the requirements. Where police decide not to remove the
requirements, the offender is allowed to make a further submission to the
police to prove that the requirements are no longer necessary. The process is
described below in brief.
An offender can apply to the police to review the notification requirements
after a period of 15 years (8 years if under 18 at time of conviction) from date
of initial notification.
On receipt of the application, the police will review the case and, if satisfied
that it is no longer necessary for the offender to be subject to the notification
requirements as he no longer presents a risk of sexual harm to the public or
any particular members of the public in the UK, they will inform the offender
that he ceases to be subject to the notification requirements.
If, following a review, the police wish to maintain the notification requirements
they must inform the offender and must invite the offender to submit any
further evidence or information that has not previously been considered, that
they wish to be considered as part of the review process.
Upon expiry of the period of time provided for the offender to submit further
representations, the police must review any further information provided and
inform the offender of the decision made.
There is no further statutory appeal process. If the offender wishes to
challenge the decision he must use the judicial review process.
If the police decide that the notification requirements should remain in place,
the offender can apply for a further review which will normally take place in 8
years, but can take be up to 15 years in exceptional circumstances.
VIOLENT OFFENDER ORDERS IN ENGLAND AND WALES
In England and Wales, the Violent Offender Order (VOO) is a targeted risk
management tool. In order to qualify for a VOO the offender must be 18 years
of age or over and have been sentenced to 12 months or more of a custodial
sentence or received a hospital order or a supervision order in respect of one
of the following offences:
• soliciting murder;
• wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm;
• malicious wounding;
• attempting to commit murder or conspiracy to commit murder; or
• a relevant service offence.
Further, the VOO is only for those qualifying offenders who have acted in a
way that demonstrates it is necessary to make an order to protect the public
from the risk of serious violent harm. An application for a VOO must be made
to the magistrates’ court. Applications can only be made by the police. Where
the court is satisfied that the criteria for the order are made out, the court may
make an order which will place restrictions on that offender which the court
considers necessary to protect the public from the risk of serious violent harm.
The types of restrictions that can be imposed are ones restricting access to:
• specified places;
• premises and events; and
Breach of a VOO is a criminal offence which may result in a fine or
imprisonment for up to five years.
A VOO can only be made in respect of a qualifying offender. However, this
does not mean that all offenders who are qualifying offenders are
automatically considered for a VOO. An application must be based on an
assessment of the risk of serious violent harm that a qualifying offender poses
to the public. The key is to demonstrate in court that the offender has, since
becoming a qualifying offender, acted or behaved in a way that indicates they
pose a risk of serious violent harm and that a VOO is now necessary.
The application for a VOO is made to protect the public from the risk of
serious violent harm from qualifying offenders. Application for a VOO is made
based on an assessment of that risk.
Period of Eligibility
All qualifying offenders can be considered for a VOO for as long as the risk of
serious violent harm persists. Where a person is subject to a VOO, the police
must review the risk posed by that person every six months to ensure that a
VOO remains appropriate.
A VOO can only place certain restrictions and prohibitions on an offender to
limit their access to:
places or premises; and
Only the police can apply for a VOO via a magistrates’ court. The police draw
up the list of proposed restrictions or prohibitions for inclusion in the
application form. Restrictions and prohibitions must be clear and proportionate
to the need to protect the public from serious harm. The police monitor the
order and enforce breaches, so the prohibitions or restrictions need to be as
clear as possible from the outset to make enforcement more manageable and
subsequent prosecutions more likely to be successful.
Timing of Application
The order cannot be made to come into force while the offender is in prison,
subject to a hospital order or supervision order, or subject to statutory licence
conditions made in relation to any offence. However, the application can be
made while the person is in prison or on licence etc, and should be
considered as early as possible, to allow for the order to come into force as
soon as the offender ceases to be subject to statutory supervision.
In E&W a person considered to be subject to a hospital order or supervision
order could be:
• on conditional discharge from a hospital order (in the community but
subject to recall);
• discharged from detention under a hospital order into supervised
community treatment (in the community subject to recall to hospital by
their responsible clinician); or
• on a supervision order made under the Criminal Procedure (Insanity)
Act 1964, and therefore subject to supervision by social services.
However, a VOO could be made and come into force while someone is
detained under Part 2 of the Civil Procedure Rules pertaining to the Mental
Health Act 2003, i.e. has been ‘sectioned’.
An offender can be subject to a VOO and subsequently be imprisoned or
made subject to a hospital order or supervision order for a further unrelated
offence and the VOO will remain in effect. He cannot, however, have the VOO
made against him when he is subject to the conditions above.
The police are responsible for monitoring VOOs and investigating breaches.
VOOs do not give the police any additional powers of enforcement, for
example there is no right to enter the offender’s home without a warrant.
VOOs do not place any positive requirements on the offender apart from the
notification requirements. However, breach of a VOO is a criminal offence and
so the police would investigate breaches of the restrictions placed on that
offender (for example, the offender must not enter a specified public house) in
the same way as for any other criminal offence.
VOOs have effect for a period of no less than two years and no more than five
years as specified in the VOO unless renewed or discharged.
Offender Notification and Registration Requirements
Offenders subject to VOO prohibitions are also subject to notification