What is the Sex Offenders Register? Where can I find it?
The “Sex Offenders Register” isn’t a physical document that the public can access. People who have been convicted of most sexual offences are required to notify the police of certain details, either for a period of time or for life. The official term is “notification requirements”.
Who is subject to the requirements?
Anyone convicted of a sexual offence that is listed in Schedule 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. This includes all of the main offences as would be expected – rape, sexual assault and the like.
With certain (less serious) offences, it can depend on the sentence received and/or the circumstances. For example, if someone is convicted of exposure (exposing their genitals to another) then they will go on the Register if they are under 18 and they get a sentence of 12 months or more. Or, if they are over 18 and either the person that they exposed themselves to was aged under 18, or the individual is sent to prison or receives a Community Order of 12 months or more.
What are the obligations?
Within three days of the conviction (not the sentence) he must tell the police details about themselves, including the following:
(a) his date of birth;
(b) his national insurance number;
(c) his name and, where he uses one or more other names, each of those names;
(d) his home address;
(e) the address of any other premises in the United Kingdom at which, at the time the notification is given, he regularly resides or stays.
(f) whether he has any passports and, in relation to each passport he has, the details of the information recorded.
If the person is sent to prison, then notification must take place within three days of release.
In addition, there is a requirement to notify the police of any changes to the above information within three days of the change occuring. If the person spends seven days (either continuously, or seven days over a period of 12 months) in a different address to their home address, then this must also be notified. This includes any travel abroad. In any event, they must normally notify the police annually that there are no changes in circumstances (if that be the case).
Can the police stop an individual from moving house?
No. The requirements are to notify the police. There is no power for the police to take action. If there is a real concern, then the police can apply for an SHPO.
How long does this last for?
This will depend on the sentence. The full details are set out in s82 Sexual Offences Act 2003. In essence, it is as follows:
|Prison sentence of over 30 months (including life sentence)||Lifetime|
|Prison sentence of 6-30 months||10 years|
|Prison sentence of 6 months of less||7 years|
|Community Order||5 years|
|For someone cautioned for a relevant offence||2 years|
|Conditional Discharge||the period of the discharge|
If the person is aged 18 when he is convicted (including on his plea of guilty) or cautioned, then the periods above are halved. If the sentence is over 30 months however then there is still a requirement for lifetime registration.
What if you don’t comply?
Can you appeal against the requirement?
No. It is something that does not form part of the criminal sentence, but follows automatically from the conviction. For more details see the case of Longworth  UKHL 1.
This means that whilst it is good practice for a Judge to inform a defendant after they are convicted that they will be subject to the notification requirements (and there is a form that is given to the defendant to sign), this is not a requirement. If the Judge doesn’t say anything, it will still apply.
What if it is not needed, is there any exemption? Can someone ask for the requirements to be terminated before the end of the period?
As originally drafted, the legislation provided for no exemption and no review. It was (unsurprisingly) held by the Supreme Court that the fact that there was no possibility of an individual getting themselves removed from the Register was a breach of Article 8.
To remedy this, Parliament inserted sections 91A-91F to the SOA 2003, allowing an individual to apply to the police to be relieved of their requirements. This only applies to people who are subject to the indefinite notification requirements and an application can only be made 15 years after the first notification (or 8 years if they were under 18 at the time of conviction). If the person satisfies the police that it is not necessary for them to be subject to the notification requirements, then these can be lifted.
It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that a further challenge to this succeeds.
A Judge cannot make an order at the sentencing hearing that an individual is not subject to the Requirements (or increase or decrease the length of the notification). Notification is an automatic consequence of conviction and is not an order of a court.
Does it work?
Nobody knows. There’s no evidence to show that it is effective in reducing sex offences, but it is not something that has been properly researched in the UK (there is some evidence from America that it doesn’t).