What Will Happen If I’m Convicted of a Sexual Offence?


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Created on March 30, 2020

If you are convicted of a sexual offence, there are a number of potential consequences that we would seek to bring to your attention at an early stage in your case. 

Sex Offenders Register

A conviction for most forms of “sexual offence” especially those charged under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 or relating to the possession of indecent material, will give rise to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act, otherwise known as the Sex Offenders Register.  We have set out more detail relating to the notification requirements below. 

Sexual Harm Prevention Order

 In most cases the prosecution will apply for a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO). The purpose of a SHPO is to reduce or eliminate the risk of a similar offence being committed in the future. The SHPO will contain a list of prohibitions which seek to control your behaviour. 

For example, if your offence is related to use of the internet, the SHPO will regulate your access to the internet and require you to retain your internet search history. If the offence relates to a “contact” offence, the SHPO will seek to regulate your contact with persons deemed to be at risk, such as children. 

The court has to be satisfied that each prohibition is necessary to prevent further relevant offending and proportionate to the offence committed. 

Deprivation Order

If the offence was committed using computer or other IT equipment, the courts will look to make a Deprivation Order in relation to the relevant items. This means that the items, such as a laptop, tablet or phone, will not be returned to you. In certain circumstances, the police may agree to copy certain files (such as family photos) before the item is destroyed. 

Sex Offender Treatment Programme

Many sexual offences will carry a custodial sentence.  However, the Sentencing Guidelines generally state that where there are sufficient prospects of rehabilitation, an accredited programme, undertaken in the community, may be an alternative to a short or moderate length prison sentence

We will always look to persuade a court that your case falls into this category and that a community penalty or suspended sentence should be preferred to an immediate term of imprisonment. 

The Probation Service will meet with you and prepare a report for the court’s attention (pre-sentence report). Provided you are deemed to be suitable, attendance on the Sex Offender Treatment Programme (SOTP) is often the most viable alternative to prison. The SOTP is run in most areas of the country and currently requires 100 days of attendance. 


In order to persuade the court that there are realistic prospects of rehabilitation in the community, it is often helpful if you have already started the process of offence focused counselling or therapy. There are a number of organisations that can offer assistance and not all will be suitable for you or your case. 

We can offer you some guidance in this area if required. The point of attending counselling sessions of any description is to help you to understand why you have offended, to find strategies for relapse prevention and to help you through the investigation and court process generally. Please speak to the lawyer with conduct of your case for more information. 

Sex offenders Register FAQs

What does “notification requirement” mean?

Essentially you must notify police of personal details such as your address, date of birth, job, and family circumstances. You will need to keep in regular contact with the police and in particular with any officers who you know have charge of your case.

Importantly, the responsibility rests with you to keep the police up to date with any relevant information and in particular with any developments which they have specifically requested from you. You must do this in a timely manner, and you must be as frank and open with them as possible.

What do I have to tell the police?

The information you must give the police is generally personal information. It also covers information about your whereabouts. Below is a list of important things which you must keep the police informed of. This list is not exhaustive and there are many other things which police can ask for information about.

You must inform police straight away (if you have not already done so) of your:

  • Date of birth
  • National Insurance Number
  • Full name (and any other names you have used/are using)
  • Home address (and any other addresses you regularly stay at)

You must inform the police of any changes to:

  • Your name
  • Your home address (or any addresses you are staying at). Please note that this is relevant even if you are only staying at that address for one night. You must keep the police up to date as to where you are going. This applies if you are being kept in hospital overnight or on an extended stay.
  • Any hospital or prison stays. While you may think that the police would be aware of any offences and prison sentences, it remains your responsibility to specifically inform the officers dealing with your notification requirements of such developments.

If you tell the police that something is going to happen (i.e. you are going to stay with friends for a weekend) and in the event that does not happen, you need to let the police know about that too.

If you would like to investigate this more, please contact us and we will direct you where to find more information.

When do I have to give this information to the police?

You have to tell police of any changes that come up, as stated above.

However, you must also notify them periodically, even if there is no change to your circumstances. They will inform you how often you need to do this. Ask the officer in your case if you are not sure how often you need to be in contact.

Do I have to tell police if I am going abroad?

In short, yes, you must tell the police if you are going to travel outside of the UK, and you must do so in good time. You must tell them the dates of your travel and where you are going.  You must also specifically state your point of arrival in that country.

How can I keep the police informed?

You must speak to the officer in your case about this, but in general, you can visit a police station and tell them in person any information they need to know.

How long will I be subject to this Order?

This varies. The period you have to report for ranges from 2 years to an indefinite period. 

Any time spent abroad, in hospital or in prison does not count toward the time period you have been given, so this also changes how long your particular requirements might last.

If you are not clear how long you will be subject to such a requirement following your sentencing hearing and our letter summarising your sentence, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.

Offenders of “Particular Concern”

If you are convicted of an offence which is listed in Schedule 18A of the Criminal justice Act 2003, and you are sentenced to a sentence of imprisonment, s236A of that Act states that for certain types of custodial sentences you must first be considered for release by the Parole Board at the half way point of the custodial term. In other words, your release at the half-way point of your sentence will not be automatic. 

The Board may direct your release at this point, but only if satisfied that it is not necessary for the protection of the public that you should be confined.   If the Parole Board does not direct your release at that point the Board must again consider the matter not more than 2 years later. You must in any event be released when you have served the whole of the custodial term. 

Whenever your release is ordered by the Parole Board, you will be liable to serve the remainder of the sentence on licence together with an additional 12-month period on licence.   

Sections 5 and 6 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 are both listed in Schedule 18A, as are historic offences (pre-dating the 2003 Act) which amount to the same criminal activity. 

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