- Aim of this page
- Why is this important?
- What are the notification requirements?
- How long do the requirements last for?
- Appealing an indefinite notification
- Visits from the police
- Violent and sex offenders’ register (VISOR)
- Travelling abroad whilst under notification requirements
- Personal experiences
- Discuss with others
- Useful links
- More information
- Get involved
Aim of this page
This information is designed to provide specific information around convictions for sexual offences in particular, details of notification requirements, more commonly referred to as the sex offenders’ register.
Why is this important?
There are many misconceptions about sexual offences and many people assume that having a notification requirement means that they will need to continue disclosing their conviction all the time they remain on the register, even if their conviction is spent.
It’s important to have an understanding of what your notification requirements will involve and how they may impact on every day life but to also recognise that just being on the register may not require you to disclose your conviction every time you are asked.
It should also be noted that if you’ve been convicted of a sexual offence abroad, you could still be made subject to notification requirements in England and Wales. Further information can be found here.
The notification requirements for those convicted or cautioned for sexual offences (commonly referred to as the ‘sex offenders’ register’) were initially introduced in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as part of the Sex Offenders Act 1997.
This system which applied retrospectively, was amended under Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 meaning that relevant offenders were required to notify certain personal details to the police in their area.
What are the notification requirements?
When the notification requirements were introduced they included:
- 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.
However, under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Notification Requirements) (England & Wales) Regulations 2012, since August 2012 those subject to notification requirements are also required to:
- Notify the police of all foreign travel;
- Notify weekly where you are not registered as regularly residing or staying at one place (i.e. where a registered sex offender has no sole or main residence and instead must notify the police of the place where he can regularly be found);
- Notify where you are living in a household with a child under the age of 18. Under the changes, 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 (changes must be notified within 3 days). This has been explained by the Home Office as being necessary to tackle internet child pornography. Whilst the legislation requires notification of bank accounts, credit and debit cards held by the offender or jointly, it does not require details of accounts, credit or debit cards held independently by family members to be provided;
- Notify information about your passports or other identity documents at each notification. This provision has been put in place purportedly to stop individuals from seeking to avoid being on the register when they change their name.
These details must be provided in person at a nominated police station within 3 days of the conviction and must be updated on an annual basis. For a list of the police stations which can accept notifications, click here. Individuals subject to the requirements are also routinely photographed when making a notification. Failure to comply with the notification requirement is a criminal offence punishable by up to five years imprisonment.
The information about an offender’s bank account is held securely and possessed by the police. However they are not entitled to examine the details of the account transactions. Access to bank accounts and transactions is not ordinarily permitted without the intervention of a court order.
In September 2013, a claimant sought a declaration that this particular regulation goes against Article 8 of the European Convention and his right to a private life. The Court decided that although this did amount to an interference with the claimants privacy, this was justified by allowing the police the ability to trace an offender quickly and guard against the risk of an offender using another identity. For more information on this issue please see the following link.
In the years between 2006/07 and 2012/13, over 1000 individuals have been cautioned or convicted for breaches in the notification requirements.
Further information can be found in updated guidance published by the Home Office.
How long do the requirements last for?
The length of time to which individuals are subject to the notification requirements is based upon the sentence received (finite notification periods are halved if the person is under 18 when convicted or cautioned).
Notification requirements for extended sentences
Individuals subject to an extended sentence should be aware that the notification period is calculated by using the whole term. For instance, if sentenced to four months plus a four month extended supervision period the term would be eight months. The resultant notification period would therefore be 10 years rather than 7 years which would have resulted from a four month custodial sentence. For further explanation from the Home Office, click here.
In April 2010, the UK Supreme Court ruled that indefinite notification periods were 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. This effectively meant that those subject to lifetime registration should have the right to an appeal where they will have the opportunity to demonstrate that their risk has been minimised to a degree that it is no longer necessary for them to be subject to the notification requirements.
As a result of this case, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Remedial) Order 2012 came into force on 30 July 2012 and allows individuals who are subject to indefinite notification requirements the opportunity to apply to the police for a review of this requirement, after a fixed period of time has elapsed. This is currently 15 years for an adult and 8 years for a juvenile, from the date the individual makes their first notification to the Police.
Appealing an indefinite notification
Any review of the notification requirements will be carried out by the police on the basis of a range of factors including information provided from the Responsible Authority and Duty to Co-operate agencies which operate within the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) framework (under section 325 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003).
Detailed guidance has been produced by the Home Office, particularly aimed at police forces, and is available to download here.
If the police determine that your application should be refused, then you will continue to remain subject to indefinite notification requirements. You will be able to seek a further review after a minimum of 8 years has elapsed.
When determining your appeal the police will take into consideration matters in section 91d of the 2003 Act, namely:
- Any information documented and provided to them by the police, probation and the prison service;
- The risk of sexual harm posed by you and the effect of a continuation of the indefinite notification requirements;
- The seriousness of the offence(s) that led to you being made subject to notification requirements
- The period of time that has passed since the offence was committed;
- Whether you have previously failed to comply with your notification requirements;
- Your age, both at the time of the application and at the time the offence was committed;
- Any submission or evidence from the victim; and
- Any convictions or cautions you have received other than for sexual offences listed in Schedule 3 of the Act.
The review of indefinite notifications started in September 2012. This allows those subject to indefinite notification requirements to submit an application to review. To try to find out how the Police were dealing with these, we made a Freedom of Information application to Kent Police. The response that we received is copied below:
Since September 2012, Kent Police has received 9 applications of which 6 were granted and 3 were declined.
For each of the 6 successful applicants, it was established that the level of risk posed by the individual had reduced to such a level that no beneficial purpose would be served by continued registration. This was found not to be the case for the three applications that were declined.
What you should include in an appeal
In any application you make, you will need to demonstrate:
- How the circumstances now, compared to those at the time of your offence, have changed meaning that you no longer pose any risk of re-offending.
- The way you behave now, compared to your behaviour at the time of your offence means that you no longer need to be subject to the notification requirements to manage any risk you pose.
You may also want to consider including some of the following:
- Details of positive relationships you’ve had with both adults and children.
- How you fill your time – if you’re employed, how long you’ve been in the same job and what other hobbies and interests you have.
- Details of any treatment programmes that you’ve attended which are relevant to your offence.
- Your attitude to your offence and how you make sure that you will not offend again.
- Any other information that you consider demonstrates that you no longer pose a risk.
What can you do if your appeal is unsuccessful?
If your appeal is unsuccessful and you wish to challenge the decision made by the police, you have the right to appeal to the magistrates court within 21 days. You will remain subject to the indefinite notification whilst your appeal is outstanding.
It’s important to note that you will be liable for any court fees incurred and, should your appeal be unsuccessful, you may also be liable for the costs of the appeal. We would recommend that you seek legal advice before taking your case to the magistrates court.
Visits from the police
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.
Section 58 of the 2006 Violent Crime Reduction Act, amended the 2003 Sexual Offences Act to give police the power to enter and search the home address of a registered sex offender where at least two previous attempts to gain entry had been unsuccessful. This means that if police are refused entry for the purpose of conducting a risk assessment under MAPPA, they can apply for a search warrant to a local magistrate. It is therefore advisable for those subject to the notification requirements to co-operate fully with these visits and to use them as an opportunity to seek advice or information on any relevant issue from their designated PPU 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.
Violent and sex offenders’ register (ViSOR)
ViSOR is a shared access database of records of those subject to the notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, those imprisoned for more than 12 months for violent offences and unconvicted people simply thought to be at risk of offending. ViSOR can be accessed by the police, probation and prison service personnel. Private companies running prisons are also granted access.
Travelling abroad whilst under notification requirements
If you live in England or Wales you will need to notify the police of all foreign travel. You will need to 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) you intend to use to leave and return to the UK or to any other point(s) of arrival while you are 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, you will need to make a new notification at least 24 hours before your departure from the UK.
If you are unable to provide the details of the date of re-entry to the UK and point of arrival prior to departure, you must do this within 3 days of your return to the UK.
If you are on licence, you must seek permission to travel from your probation officer.
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 you are travelling abroad to commit further offences, which may put children or adults in danger, and the ‘reputation of UK law enforcement agencies at risk’.
It is a criminal offence to fail to notify the police of your travel plans, and this holds a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Interpol’s International Notice System was created in 1946. Green Notices are usually issued to provide warnings and criminal intelligence about a persons criminal activities, where the individual is considered to be a possible threat to public safety. It is seen as an effective way to share key police intelligence on a global scale and to prevent people with a criminal record from crossing borders.
Interpol publishes notices either on its own initiative or based on requests from its member states. Notices should only be issued if there is a clear indication that a person intends to commit or is committing a serious offence.
Travelling within the EU
The Schengen Information System allows its members to check whether EU and non-EU citizens should be refused entry into any Schengen state (for example due to a previous breach of immigration law, or a criminal offence). Due to EU rules on free movement of people, you should not be refused entry into any of the Schengen states unless you are a wanted person.
The personal stories below have been posted on theRecord, our online magazine.
Discuss with others
Read and share your experiences on our online forum.
Key sections include:
Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page. More specific details (including addresses and telephone numbers) of some of the organisations listed below can be found here.
- Circles UK – A national organisation working to reduce sex offending
- Lucy Faithfull Foundation – A child protection charity working with people with convictions for sexual offences
- For practical information – More information on sexual offences
- To read personal stories – You an read stories about this posted on theRecord, our online magazine, under the tag sexual offences
- To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
- Questions – If you have any questions about this you can contact our helpline.
Help us to add value to this information. You can:
- Comment on this page (below)
- Send your feedback directly to us
- Discuss your views and experiences with others on our online forum
- Share your personal story by contributing to our online magazine, theRecord.