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Serious Crime Prevention Order (SCPO)

This is part of our information section on understanding your criminal record. Details of other sentences/disposals can be found here.


Who is it issued by and how can I contact them?

Issued by the court – contact the administering court.

Does it involve guilt?

Not necessarily. An order can be made to the Crown Court if a person has been convicted of a serious offence or to the High Court on a standalone application, if the person has been ‘involved’ in serious crime.

The High Court may be satisfied that a person has been ‘involved’ in serious crime if:

  • They have committed a serious offence in England or Wales
  • They have facilitated the commission by another of a serious offence in England or Wales
  • Their conduct was likely to facilitate the commission by himself/herself or another of a serious offence in England or Wales, whether or not such an offence was committed.

Is it recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC)?


Is it classed as a conviction?


How long will it be on my record?

It will remain on the PNC indefinitely and can still be mentioned in future criminal proceedings even after it has become spent.

When does it become spent?

After the length of the order.

When do I have to declare it?

You do not have to declare it after it is spent except for an occupation exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, i.e. working with children. Before it is spent, you will need to declare it, when asked, to employers, insurance companies and others.

Is it disclosed on DBS checks?

Yes, it will be disclosed on both standard and enhanced checks unless it is eligible for filtering.

Once spent, it will not be disclosed on a basic check.

What guidance is there on fair process?

There is CPS Guidance on Serious Crime Prevention Orders.

Do I have the right to appeal and what is the process?

GOV.UK information on appealing a Court decision can be found here.

What can a SCPO include?

Examples of conditions which may be sought in both a High Court or Crown Court SCPO include (but are not restricted to):

  • Prohibitions, restrictions or requirements in relation to an individual’s financial, property or business dealings; an individual’s working arrangements; the means by which an individual communicates or associates with others, or the persons he communicates with; the premises the individual has access to; the use of any premises or item by an individual; an individual’s travel.
  • Requirement to make a person answer questions or provide information or to produce documents specified in the SCPO.
  • Prohibitions, restrictions or requirements in relation to an individual’s private dwelling.

An SCPO cannot require a person to do the following:

  • Provide oral answers to questions or requirements to provide information other than those specified in the SCPO.
  • Answer questions or provide information or documents covered by legal professional privilege
  • Provide excluded material as defined by s11 PACE [s13(1)(a)]
  • Disclose any information or produce any document held by him in confidence as part of a banking business, unless consent is obtained from the person to whom the confidence is owed, or the order specifically requires disclosure of information/documents of this kind.

It is essential that any terms are enforceable, clear and readily identify what conduct is prohibited or required so that any breach can be readily identified and capable of being proved.

The terms must be necessary and proportionate and must relate to the specific facts of the case (R v Searle [2014] EWCA Crim 650).

Terms should not seriously inhibit an individual from rehabilitating themselves in society, having served their sentence of imprisonment, by returning to his previous type of employment unless doing so is seen as the only way of preventing further involvement in serious crime.

Getting a SCPO changed or removed

Discharging a SCPO

The High Court in England and Wales may discharge a SCPO made by either the High Court or Crown Court in England and Wales.

Application for discharge may be made by:

  • The relevant applicant authority
  • The person who is the subject of the order
  • Any other person

Where an application is made by the subject of the SCPO, the High Court may only ‘entertain’ the application if he considers that there have been a change of circumstances.

Varying a SCPO

An application to vary a SCPO may be made by:

  • The relevant applicant authority
  • The person who is the subject of the order
  • Any other person

The person subject to the order can apply for a variation but only if they can satisfy the court that there has been a change of circumstances affecting the order.

Additional information

Determining when a SCPO is appropriate 

When granting an application for a SCPO, the court must have reasonable grounds to believe that an order would protect the public by preventing, restricting or disrupting involvement by the person in serious crime. It must be shown that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there is a real risk that the individual will be involved in further conduct falling within the Act from which the public require protection.

In cases where an order is being considered in respect of a defendant following conviction, the prosecutor should first consider what other ancillary orders may be available which would achieve the desired aims. A SCPO should not be seen as a means of adding to a defendant’s sentence. The following questions should be considered:

  • In the circumstances, are there reasonable grounds to believe there is a real risk that this defendant will be involved in further conduct falling within the Act from which the public requires protection?
  • What is the need for and what will a SCPO add to the sentencing powers that the court already has?
  • Is there a real risk of further serious offending upon release from what will be a long prison sentence or, a risk of further serious offending while serving such a sentence.
  • The imposition of an order should not be a normal part of the sentencing process but rather an exceptional course in particular circumstances.

A SCPO can be made for a maximum period of 5 years and must state when it starts and ends. The five year limit does not prevent the making of a subsequent order, in the same or different terms. The new order can be made in anticipation of the original one ending in order to ensure continuity.



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Debbie Sadler
Head of Advice

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