Sex offender registration appeals introduced

Prisoner The government has said it was "appalled" by the Supreme Court ruling

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Sex offenders in England and Wales can now appeal against staying on the sex offenders register for life - 15 years to the day since it was introduced.

Ministers said they would make "minimum possible changes" to comply with a 2010 Supreme Court ruling.

Sex offenders will have to wait 15 years after leaving prison to appeal.

Labour has opposed the change while the NSPCC said "paedophiles who have been put on the sex offender register for life must remain there".

Those sentenced to more than 30 months for a sex-related crime - against a child or an adult - can be required to register with police for life.

The government has estimated that a maximum of 1,200 sex offenders will be eligible for a review each year.

Reviews will be considered by individual police forces.

In Scotland - where the government has already amended laws to let those convicted seek a review after 15 years on the register - final decisions are taken by the courts.

A consultation on changing the law has taken place in Northern Ireland but proposals have not yet been put forward.

'No cure'

The Supreme Court ruled that denying offenders the right of appeal was incompatible with their human rights , shortly before the 2010 general election.

The offenders who brought the challenge said that permanent inclusion on the register with no chance of a review was disproportionate.

Although the Supreme Court said an appeal should be possible, it underlined that it was entirely lawful to monitor someone for life if they are a danger to society.

Start Quote

We will monitor the appeals process closely and will raise concerns if we believe the civil liberties of convicted sex offenders are being put before the protection of children”

End Quote NSPCC

The then Labour government said the ruling stated it should be "open to Parliament" to maintain the current position if it saw fit, so long as there was provision in law to review matters in future if it became appropriate to do so.

In February last year, Home Secretary Theresa May told the Commons the government was "appalled" by the Supreme Court ruling, but there was no possibility of further appeal.

NSPCC chief executive Andrew Flanagan said the charity had "sadly been told the legal ruling could not be overturned".

"There is no proven or recognised 'cure' for adult sex offenders who abuse children and they must therefore always be considered a risk," he said.

"Physical and emotional harm caused by sexual abuse can damage children's lives.

"We will monitor the appeals process closely and will raise concerns if we believe the civil liberties of convicted sex offenders are being put before the protection of children."

'Protect public'

Last year, the government outlined plans to tighten up "loopholes" in the registration system including making it compulsory for offenders to tell police if they planned to travel abroad for one day - as opposed to the current three days or more.

A Home Office spokesman said the department was doing everything it could "to protect the public from predatory sex offenders".

"The review process for offenders is robust and puts public protection first. It also prevents sex offenders from wasting taxpayers' money by repeatedly challenging our laws," he said.

"Sex offenders who continue to pose a risk will remain on the register for life."

The Sex Offenders Act, which was prompted by public concern about increasing reports of paedophile activity, created the Sex Offenders Register, introduced on 1 September 1997.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    36. Tamarin. We signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights in, I think, 1951. It was that noted bleeding-heart liberal Winston Churchill who signed up. All the Human Rights Act did was transfer the legislation to UK law so that you didn't need to go to Europe (NB. The Council of Europe, NOT the EU) to have your case heard.

    Only in the UK could 'human rights' be a bad thing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    A difficult one & I can understand the outcry especially from victims: But by having sex offenders register for life one is assuming that the system has failed to rehabilitate them.
    Also, with so many companies doing CRB checks now we are creating a group of people who can never move on and change their lives. This affects all from a silly crime committed when young crime to the most heinous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    I think the whole system is a blunt and lazy attempt to apply appropriate levels of control. The range of offences attracting registration is enormous, and when applied to youth cases simply muddies the water further. Follow a full and proper strategy for those that need it, and don't waste resource on those who don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Another new, invented, nonsensical "human right" which can only serve to reduce the safety of the most vulnerable people in society.

    Eventually some court will rule that prison itself is a violation of the "right" to freedom and that this right trumps public safety and protection.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    #35 Actually its sentenced to 30 months. Realistically that means less than 15 months in jail, probably with remand time less than a year inside post-conviction. There are a couple of cases of teachers having sex with girls between 16-18 who have subsequently married the girl who would be covered by that (and they're the sort of people who'll get an appeal not the Ian Huntley's of this world)

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    It appears the major winners from the implementation of the Human Rights Act 98, are the new Army of lawyers, taking of their shoes like penitents and walking barefoot into court..

    That said, I think appeals are a good`s a check and balance..

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Why is it that the Human Rights Act specifically excludes victims of crime from protection? Surely children have the right not to be subjected to violence and sexual assault?

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    I don't disagree with you. I think that the Sex Offender's Register is outdated & a blunt tool. There ARE people who need to be permanently identified and there are those who have been merely unwise, immature or silly.

    I simply took umbrage at your opening "Doubtless the usual 'Hang em all' crowd will be up soon."

    And yet you would 'help tie the noose'?

    Tad hypocritical maybe?

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    What you have to do to be put on the Sex Offenders Register is very varied. For people on there for public urination to be cast in the same light as child rapists seems extreme. Some things should be able to be appealed against, however if you've done something that lowers the quality of someone else's life then no.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    I know a sex offender. His offence was looking at pictures on the internet, I believe. No-one was harmed by this (except possibly he was, I suppose you could argue); no-one is at risk. Obviously predatory and serial offenders should be dealt with harshly, but if looking at pictures gets you on the SOR there is something wrong with this country. What next? Beware of the screaming mob!

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    I have to admit when I first saw this I thought keep them on for life. But when you read into it, it just makes sense that people should have the right to appeal and I trust that those in power will have the sense to make the right decision on a case by case basis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    @ 2. allanr19
    “It is blatantly obvious the criminals have more rights than the victims” can you name a single right that criminals have that we don’t?
    That our legal system keeps clashing with the act is not the act’s fault. It is our legal system which is in desperate need for an overhaul to bring into the modern era where justice needs to be consistent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    There will always be miscarriages of justice and this area is no different.So putting in an appeals procedure is right and proper. However strict guidelines need putting in regarding how someone can appeal. I don't want to see payouts for criminals abusing human rights legislation. The Police are there to get a conviction. If you haven't done anything wrong you have nothing to fear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    3 Minutes ago
    As for ex teachers sleeping with pupils thats abuse of trust and should be a registered offence

    Rubbish the age of concent in the UK is 16 if a 16 old wants have consensual sex with any woman over the age of 16 it should be nothing to do with the courts. If a 16 man meet a 26 year old shopworker and had sex the women would not end up in court.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Be Careful what you wish for David, all it requires is for someone to complain of a sexual offence to the police and you WILL be arrested, interviewed, dna taken, statement twisted and possibly charged. if they can find enough "evidence" to support a prosecution, a statement from the "victim" will do

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    The deeply unpopular Human Rights Act strikes again. Should have been repealled long ago

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    You arrive on the SOR for 2, 7, 10 years or life depending how long you were sentenced for.

    To be on for life you have to have committed a very serious offence and be jailed for >30 months.

    Those convicted of minor offences will be removed after 2, 7 or 10 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Do you get the right to a judicial review of being listed as having been convicted of a crime which will show up on a CRB?

    I can think of a few people who'd be running for commissioner of police (or whatever the stupid title for that new job is) if they did...

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Sex offenders are not victims and no amount of whining and fast talking is going to change this. They are on a sex offenders register because of what they did. To bad if it is inconvenient and or shameful perhaps they should have considered this before they committed their offence(s).

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    #29 If you like I'll help you tie the noose. No-where am I defending violent paedophiles or serial rapists (who are unlikely to be released from jail anyway making the register irrelevant). I'm pointing out that NOT all sex-offenders are violent and that trivial offences can get you on the record. I'm also pointing out that right to appeal means only the RIGHT to appeal. Nothing more. Try reading


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