Sex offenders register
There are over 60,000 people currently on the register.
Get the advice you need to avoid breaching the notification requirements.
The general public hold very strong views about the sex offenders’ register, often these views are misguided and uninformed, here I will outline the truth of the sex offenders’ register and the notification requirements placed upon those convicted of qualifying offences, such as indecent images.
There is actually no such thing as “the sex offenders’ register”, information about those convicted or cautioned for sexual offences against children or adults is kept by the Police on the Dangerous Persons Database called VISOR, it is this database that is commonly known as the sex offenders' register.
In short, being on the sex offenders’ register means the person must comply with certain notification requirements. These requirements require a person to notify the police of specific personal details. Any change of details or circumstances, such as staying away from home for a qualifying period or foreign travel, must also be notified to the police.
It is a myth that it is a paedophile register that only applies to offences against children, both adult and child sexual offences trigger automatic registration. Therefore, a conviction for offences such as voyeurism or sexual touching of an adult (e.g. touching a person’s bottom in a shopping queue), can place a person on the sex offenders’ register.
Adults and youths can be placed on the sex offenders’ register.
The sex offenders’ register is not a short list, there are currently over 60,000 people on the register.
Key points to consider
If you are convicted or cautioned for an indent images offence you will go onto the sex offenders’ register, there is no legal mechanism available to avoid that.
To avoid breach proceedings it is vitally important to keep to all deadlines to notify the Police of details and changes.
Always provide information to the Police yourself, it is not sufficient to inform another agency, such as the social services or the probation service.
It is good practice to request a photocopy and written receipt of any details you provide to the police, especially if provided to civilian front enquiry desk staff, to avoid any potential difficulties with misfiled information.
Although the Police take bank account details, they are not entitled to examine the details of the account transactions without a court order.
You do not need to tell your employer about being on the sex offenders’ register as it is separate to the original conviction, however you may need to tell you employer about the conviction if it is unspent. The conviction may also be disclosed under the DBS process depending on the type of intended employment or purpose.
Be careful of the time restraints when staying away from your usual home address with family and friends.
It is wise to get approval from the Police before booking foreign travel and consider visa arrangements where necessary.
As the requirements are very specific and time sensitive it is easy to see how a breach can occur. A breach of notification requirement is a separate criminal offence which means a police investigation, police interview, a criminal charge and a Court appearance. It also carries a maximum prison term of 5 years.
A breach can be successfully defended if you have a reasonable excuse for the breach, this might be, for example, where you do not provide the information in the required timescale because you are in hospital following an accident.
What are the notification requirements?
The notification requirements are to provide the following details in person at a nominated police station within 3 days of the conviction and must be updated on an annual basis:
Name and any aliases;
Date of birth;
National Insurance number;
Main address and any addresses at which you may reside for more than 7 days in 12 months;
Any changes to the above details.
Notify the police of all foreign travel;
Notify weekly where you are not registered as regularly residing or staying at one place;
Notify where you are living in a household with a child under the age of 18. Those subject to the notification requirements will be required to notify when residing or staying in a relevant household for a period of at least 12 hours with a child who is under the age of 18;
Notify bank account and credit card details.
Notify information about your passports or other identity documents at each notification.
Individuals subject to the requirements are also routinely photographed when making a notification. Failure to comply with the notification requirement is a breach and becomes a new criminal offence punishable by up to five years imprisonment.
Will police tell people?
Yes, but only where it has been risk assessed as appropriate and necessary, this is often only where there are child safeguarding issues. The public can apply for details, but such applications are subject to significant scrutiny and risk assessment before information is provided. Information is often shared with the probation service, local authorities, the NHS, schools and employers as appropriate.
Do I need to tell work?
It is a common myth that people convicted of sexual offences must always disclose their offences to employers. This is simply not true. If an offence is spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and a person is applying for a job that is covered by the Act, they will not need to declare the conviction.
The length of time a person may be on the sex offenders’ register may be longer than it takes for the offence to become spent. Once the offence is spent, a person does not need to declare it when applying for jobs covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act just because they are still on the sex offenders’ register.
This does not alter the circumstance where a spent offence can be disclosed by the Police under an DBS application for certain jobs or purposes, for example it would be expected that an indecent images conviction would be disclosed if applying to work or volunteer for a role supervising children.
The interaction between indecent images offences and Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) applications and employment or voluntary functions is complex and differs in individual circumstances. Contact me for further advice.
Visits from the police
Once registered, the police will visit the person at home to undertake a risk assessment. Whilst an individual subject to the notification requirements does not legally have to permit the police to enter their property when a visit is conducted, such behaviour is likely to prompt concern and will make the risk assessment process more complicated for the police.
The police have power to apply to the Court for a warrant to enter and search the home address of a registered sex offender where at least two previous attempts to gain entry had been unsuccessful. It is therefore advisable for those subject to the notification requirements to co-operate with these visits and to use them as an opportunity to seek advice or information on any relevant issue from their designated police officer.
The frequency of visits will generally be determined by the perceived risk level of the individual in question with lower risk cases being visited on an annual basis and the very highest risk cases on a monthly basis.
How long will an individual’s details be kept on the sex offenders register?
The length of time to which individuals are subject to the notification requirements is based upon the sentence received. The length of time required to remain on the register for an adult is as follows:
A police Caution – 2 years
A fine or community order – 5 years
A custodial sentence of 6 months or less – 7 years
A custodial sentence of more than 6 months and less than 30 months – 10 years
A custodial sentence of more than 30 months – indefinite
For a youth (person aged under 18) subject to the notification requirements the above time periods are halved in each scenario.
Appealing an indefinite notification
Indefinite notification periods were found to be incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to respect for private and family life) because they did not contain any mechanism for the review of the justification for continuing the requirements in individual cases. Therefore, it is now possible to
apply to the police for a review of this requirement after 15 years for an adult and 8 years for a juvenile. Contact me for further advice.
A registered person will need to notify the police of all foreign travel and attend the police station at least 7 days prior to departure and provide the following information:
The date of departure from the UK;
The destination country (or, if there is more than one, the first) and the point of arrival in that country;
The point(s) of arrival in any countries that will be visited in addition to the initial destination country;
The carrier(s) intended to be used to leave and return to the UK or to any other point(s) of arrival while outside the UK (but not internal flights);
Details of accommodation arrangements for the first night outside the UK;
The date of re-entry to the UK and point of arrival.
If any of the above information changes a new notification is required at least 24 hours before the departure from the UK.
If it is not possible to provide the details of the date of re-entry to the UK and point of arrival prior to departure, this must be done within 3 days of the return to the UK.
All travel arrangements will be risk assessed and any appropriate action taken, this may include sharing the information with other agencies and countries. The police will consider whether a person is travelling abroad to commit further offences.
Failure to notify the police of travel plans is a breach which can result in a person being returned to court and convicted and sentenced.
Due to EU rules on free movement of people, a person should not be refused entry into any of the Schengen states unless they are a wanted person. Travelling outside of the UK can be more complicated. Contact me for further advice.
Breach of notification requirements
Going onto the sex offenders’ register and complying with the notification requirements isn’t straightforward, the rules are strict, one mistake can mean a fresh criminal investigation, police interview, charge and Court appearance, with a risk of conviction and being sentenced. If you have concerns about your notification requirements or if you are being investigated or have been charged with a breach contact me for further advice.