UK Government

Home Office (National): Tougher checks for registered sex offenders

Press release   •   Jun 14, 2011 12:52 BST

Tough proposals to strengthen the police and probation services' ability to protect the public and manage registered sex offenders in local communities were published by the Government today.

These proposals have been designed to strengthen and extend the current checks and would make it compulsory for offenders on the Sex Offenders' Register to:

* notify the police of all foreign travel, requiring offenders who travel abroad for less than three days to notify in the same way as those who travel for longer must do under the existing scheme;
* notify the police weekly where they can be found when they have no fixed abode;
* notify the police when they are living with a child under the age of 18; and,
* notify the police of passport, bank account and credit card details and provide identification at each notification, so that sex offenders can no longer avoid being on the register when they change their name by deed poll. 

A sex offender given a custodial sentence of 30 months or more is automatically placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for life. The Government has also today laid the proposal to make the draft order which will ensure that public protection remains a priority in dealing with these cases, and for considering when, if ever, offenders should be removed from the register.

Minister for Crime and Security James Brokenshire said: 
"Protecting the public is our number one priority and tough checks and a range of tools are already in place to manage known sex offenders. 

"We recognise that we can build on this which is why we are seeking views on extending and strengthening the notification requirements which will further enhance our ability to manage offenders in local communities."

"Today the Government has also laid the proposal to make the draft order which will ensure that strict rules are put in place for considering whether sex offenders who are placed on the register for life should ever be allowed to be removed."

ACPO lead on the management of sexual offenders and violent offenders Assistant Chief Constable Michelle Skeer, said:

"It is recognised that the legislation under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the multi-agency public protection arrangements provide some of the most effective tools in the world to manage registered sex offenders.

"Protecting the public from harm is a fundamental role for the police service but we recognise that this must be balanced with the rights of individuals, as highlighted by the Supreme Court judgment. We have worked closely with the Home Office and other key partners to develop a robust review process that ensures a full assessment of the risks posed before an offender is removed from the notification requirements.

"The reality is that the risks posed by some offenders can never be completely eliminated, but we will continue to do all in our power to keep them to a minimum and believe that the proposed review process strikes the right balance between individual rights and public safety."

Today's proposals will ensure that sex offenders currently required to register with the police for life will have to wait 15 years following their release from prison before they can apply to be considered for removal from the register (this period will be eight years for juveniles).

063/2011 

Notes to Editors

1. The consultation: Reforming the Notification Requirements of Registered Sex Offenders (Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003): A Targeted Consultation runs from 14 June to 8 August. To access the consultation document and for details of how to respond go to:www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/notification-sex-offenders/

2. Current notification requirements came into force on 1 September 1997 in the Sex Offenders Act 1997. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 repealed the 1997 Act and made considerable changes to the notification requirements - commonly known as the Sex Offenders' Register. 
Qualifying sex offenders are required to notify the following personal details with the police annually and whenever their details change:

* name;
* address;
* date of birth; and,
* national insurance number.

3. Currently a sex offender given a custodial sentence of 30 months or more is automatically placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for life with no possibility to be removed.

4. In December 2008, two convicted sex offenders, Thompson (an adult) and F (a child), successfully argued in the High Court that the sex offender notification requirements are incompatible with Article 8 (right to family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights where they apply for life because there is no opportunity for those offenders to apply for a review of whether they should continue to be subject to the requirements. The Home Office appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal and was unsuccessful. The Home Office then appealed to the Supreme Court.

5. In April 2010 the Home Office lost its appeal to the Supreme Court in the case F & Thompson v Secretary of State for the Home Department. The Court declared that the lack of opportunity for sex offenders, whose crimes mean that they will be registered as a sex offender for life, to seek a review of this requirement was a breach of their Article 8 rights.

6. We are using the (non-urgent) remedial order procedure contained within the Human Rights Act 1998 to amend the relevant part of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. It is expected that the Order will be in force by early 2012. For more information go to: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/legislation/sexual-offences-remedial-order/

7. For more information contact the Home Office press office on 020 7035 3535.

Contacts

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