Sex Offender Consequences: what are they?
Those convicted of Sexual Offences are punished in many different ways such as receiving a prison sentence, being required to sign the Sex Offender’s Register and be subject to rigorous, and often invasive monitoring. Services such as Probation and Offender Managers, are tasked with continually monitoring offenders, and encouraging them to engage with court appointed Agencies and/or restorative/rehabilitative programmes.
One of the most common ways is a custodial sentence, which is where the offender can serve between 5-7 years. The Ministry of Justice shows that 1 in 5 prisoners have been found guilty of sexual offences in the UK.
In the UK, HMP Stafford is a ‘Sex Offender only’ prison. The prison is focused on rehabilitating those for life on the outside and has a total population of 750 inmates. Governor Ralph Lubkowski of HMP Stafford states their programme aims to give offenders purpose and responsibility to decrease the likelihood of them reoffending when being released.
Sex Offender’s Register
From 1997, anyone cautioned or convicted for a sexual offence under the Sexual Offences Act will be put on the Sex Offender’s Register. This can be by committing a physical act for example committing an unwanted and non-consensual sexual act on a person, or it can be an act committed over the internet, e.g. watching child pornography.
How long an offender is on the Sex Offender’s Register is discretionary to their sentence. If the offender is given a custodial sentence of more than 30 months, they are placed on the register indefinitely. If their sentence is between 6 – 30 months, then they remain on the register for 10 years. If the offender is under the age of 18, they will remain on the register for 5 years.
All offences under the Sexual Offences Act means the perpetrator must register with the police within 3 days of their conviction, 3 days of submitting a guilty plea in court or when they are released from prison.
When signing the sex offenders register, general information will need to be taken, for example, full name, address (if they do not have a fixed address, they will need to attend the police station every week), national insurance number, passport details and date of birth. Additional details which need to be provided are: The perpetrator must notify the police of all foreign travel; whether they are living with or staying with a person under the age of 18 for more than 12 hours; and certain credit card and bank account details.
Those on the Sex Offenders Register are required to go to the police station on a regular basis to state they are complying with the Sex Offenders Register regulations. This is done by signing a document. Failure to do any of the above can result in the perpetrator being charged with a criminal offence.
Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO)
A Sexual Harm Prevention Order can be requested by the police or by a court when there are significant and specified concerns regarding an individual. The order is used to prevent someone engaging in a particular activity. An offender who has been convicted of accessing sexual images of children is more than likely going to be subject to this.
Below are some of the restrictions set out by the order:
- Unable to go to a place where it is likely there will be a large number of children, for example a playground or park
- No unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18
- Unable to delete their internet history
- Unable to use the internet without having installed computer monitoring software
Whilst under the Sexual Harm Prevention Order, the police are able to conduct unannounced visits to the offender’s house in order to make sure they are complying with the order.
Similar to Megan’s Law in the United States, Sarah’s Law is a disclosure scheme across England and Wales which allows people to formally ask the police about people they are concerned about, who has access to their child, if they have any child sexual offences.
The request will be dealt with by a case officer and usually takes around 45 days. When the police have investigated the person/people of concern, they will confidentially reveal those details to the person who is most able to protect that child if it is in the interest of the child to do so, for example, a parent, guardian or carer.
Sarah Payne was a 9-year-old girl who was abducted, sexually attacked and then murdered. Roy Whiting was found guilty in December 2001 and is serving a minimum term of 40 years at HMP Wakefield. Sara Payne, her mother, campaigned using the media to influence Parliament to bring Sarah’s Law into place. After 8 years of campaigning, 4 police forces introduced the disclosure scheme and, on the 4th April 2011, all police forces across England and Wales implemented the scheme.
- Social Services will become involved if someone is being investigated for sexual offences against children and they have access to children under the age of 18 within their family or social circles (this can be their child/niece/nephew etc)
- Family and friends may turn against the offender due to the nature of their crimes
- The media may publicise the offender’s case depending on the severity of it, for example Rolf Harris who was a popular TV presenter in the 1970s and 1980s
- Potential loss of job
- Under no circumstance will a Sex Offender be able to work with children
- Consequences could be afforded to relatives of convicted sex offenders e.g. social isolation, employment etc.
- People living at the same address as the offender could be impacted through having a DBS check as it will make the employer aware they live with a sex offender