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What is a Sexual Harm Prevention Order?

What is a Sexual Harm Prevention Order?

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) replaces the previous order referred to as a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) from 2014. If you had a SOPO before it will have been converted into a SHPO under the law and the conditions will remain the same.

What does this mean for me?

The intended purpose of a SOPO/SHPO is to protect specific individuals or the public at large from serious sexual harm. However, the guidance to this order changed fundamentally (2011, Court of Appeal in R v Smith), the approach of the police and the Courts to the imposition of such orders.  The Court of Appeal imposed narrow restrictions on the kinds of prohibitions that could be included in SOPOs.

Therefore, any order imposed before 2011, is likely to have been drafted too widely, if it remains appropriate at all.

Here are a few considerations you may want to be aware of.

Notification Requirements

An individual may be subject to notification requirements depending on whether, at the time the SOPO/SHPO was imposed, the individual was subject to notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (SOA 2003).

For further guidance on this, please contact us to discuss your case.

Foreign Travel

An order may involve a condition not to travel outside the UK - the individual will be required to surrender his or her passport.

How long will it be on my records?

A SHPO can last either for a fixed period of 5 years or can be made ‘until further order’ meaning until such time that it is varied or discharged. There is no process for automatically reviewing these orders, many of which were made indefinitely.  The only route to challenge such orders is by way of an appeal under s108 Sexual Offences Act 2003 to the Crown Court to revoke or amend the order.

The imposition of a SHPO will also show up on a PNC (Police National Computer) check. It will remain on there indefinitely.

Can I appeal or vary the conditions of my SHPO?

SOPOs can have a devasting effect on a person’s private and family life not only because of the prohibitions imposed, but also because whilst the SOPO is in force the conviction is never spent.  Therefore, anyone subject to such an order imposed before 2011 should seek legal advice as to their options.

Our team of specialist sexual offence solicitors are experts. If you have any questions regarding any of the points above or want to discuss your options, please contact Jas Thiara, Associate Solicitor and Head of the Criminal Litigation Department on 02477 710244 or email jas.thiara@alsterskelley.com           


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