Skip to main content

Our mission is to support & advocate for people with criminal records to be able to move on positively in their lives. Find out more

Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO)

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 may be made in relation to ‘any person who has been convicted, found not guilty by reason of insanity or found to be under a disability and to have done the act charged or cautioned for an offence listed in either Schedule 3 or 5 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.’

A SHPO may be given in Court at the time of conviction or imposed by a Court at a later date upon an application made by the police or other agency.

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


Is it classed as a conviction?

Yes. If it is given at conviction it is regarded as a ‘relevant order’.

Length of the order

A SHPO may have effect:-

  1. For a fixed period of at least 5 years
  2. Until further order

How long will it be on my record?

It will remain on the Police National Computer 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, e.g. 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 basic checks.

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 SHPO include?

A SHPO prohibits an individual from doing anything described in the order. The order may specify that some of its prohibitions have effect until further order and some for a fixed period.

Prohibitions must be necessary for the purpose of:-

  1. Protecting the public or any particular member of the public from sexual harm, or
  2. Protecting children or vulnerable adults generally, or any particular children or vulnerable adults from sexual harm outside of the UK

The decision of the Court of Appeal in R v Smith and Others (2011)[EWVA 117] reinforces the need for the terms of a SHPO to be tailored to the exact requirements of the case. SHPO’s may be used to limit and manage internet use, where it is considered proportionate and necessary to do so. The behaviour prohibited by the order might well be considered unproblematic if exhibited by another member of the public – it is the individual’s previous offending behaviour and subsequent demonstration that they may pose a risk of further such behaviour, which will make them eligible for an order.

The order may include only negative prohibitions, there is no power to impose positive obligations.

Notification requirements

  • Where a SHPO is made in respect of an individual who was subject to notification requirements under the Sex Offenders Act 1997 immediately before the making of the order, and the individual would cease to be subject to these notification requirements while the order has effect, the individual will remain subject to the notification requirements.
  • Where a SHPO is made in respect of an individual who was not subject to notification requirements under the Sex Offenders Act 1997 immediately before the making of the order, the order causes the individual to become subject to the notification requirements under the Sex Offenders Act from the making of the order until the order ceases to have effect.

Discharge, variation and renewal of an order

An order cannot be discharged within 5 years of it being made without the agreement of both the individual and the police.

An application can be made to have the order varied by either the police or the individual concerned. It may be necessary to vary the order as a result of:-

  • deletion of unnecessary conditions
  • addition of supplementary conditions

A renewal may be necessary where the original order is close to expiry and the police have cause to believe that the individual continues to pose a risk.

Other information

The new Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) will replace Sexual Offences Prevention Orders (SOPO) and Foreign Travel Order.

When deciding whether to issue a SHPO details of the offence are likely to be a key factor in the courts decision, together with the individual’s previous convictions and the assessment of risk presented by the National Probation Service in any pre-sentence report. The court may take into consideration the range of other options available to it in respect of protecting the public. The court may want to consider:

  • Would an order minimise the risk of harm to the public, or to any particular members of the public?
  • Is it proportionate?
  • Can it be policed effectively?

Any breach of the order is a criminal offence punishable by a maximum of five years imprisonment.



Add Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Photo of Head of Advice, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Head of Advice

Do you need help & support with an issue you’re facing?

We provide support and advice for people in England and Wales who need guidance with either their own, or someone else’s, criminal record.

Please use the search box to start typing your issue. If you cannot find an answer to your problem then you’ll be given options to contact us directly.

Find out more about the helpline

We want to make sure that our website is as helpful as possible.

Letting us know if you easily found what you were looking for or not enables us to continue to improve our service for you and others.

Was it easy to find what you were looking for?

Thank you for your feedback.

12 million people have criminal records in the UK. We need your help to help them.

Help support us now