Convicted for indecent images offences – what happens next?

Written 1st February 2021 by Lily Grundy

Individuals who have pleaded guilty to, or have been convicted of, indecent images offences might have questions about what happens next. These questions might relate to specific orders resulting from sentence or queries surrounding notification requirements i.e. being placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register.

It is important for individuals convicted of these types of offences to have a full understanding of any conditions with which they are required to comply. These conditions could be as a result of the imposition of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), which are commonly imposed in indecent images cases.

At Olliers, we regularly represent and advise clients in relation to indecent images offences. This includes advising in relation to any relevant orders stemming from sentence and the need to comply with any prohibitions imposed.

Notification Requirements

Notification requirements are automatically triggered upon conviction for indecent images offences. During a sentencing hearing, the court’s role is to notify the defendant of how long they will be subject to these requirements.

Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 requires those convicted of (or cautioned for) sexual offences, including indecent images offences, to notify the police of certain personal information. An offender will be required by law to notify the police of the following information within three days of the date of conviction:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Address (including their usual home address or any premises in the UK at which they regularly reside or stay)
  • National Insurance Number
  • Passport details (or other identity documents)
  • Details of bank and building society accounts
  • Details of debit cards and credit cards in their name, jointly owned with a partner or held in the name of their business

Note that an offender must attend at a local police station in person to successfully notify. They might be asked to provide fingerprints and have their photograph taken whilst at the police station if the police have not done so already.

The following are further examples of general requirements for offenders:

  • To notify the police of any change to their name or usual home address within 3 days of the date of the change
  • To notify the police of any address where they reside or stay for 7 days or longer if that address if not their usual home address
  • To notify the police 7 days in advance of any plans to travel abroad

It is important to note that the requirements apply from the date of conviction. The police must be re-notified of an offender’s details on an annual basis.

The information described above is stored by the police on the Dangerous Persons Database, also known as ViSOR. This has become more commonly known as the Sex Offenders’ Register.

How long do notification requirements last for?

The notification period i.e. the length of the requirements, will be determined with reference to the sentence an offender has received:

  • Term of imprisonment of 30 months or more Indefinite period
  • Term of imprisonment of more than 6 months but less than 30 months 10 years
  • A term of imprisonment of 6 months or less 7 years
  • Caution 2 years
  • Conditional discharge Period of conditional discharge

Please click here for more information on notification requirements and removal from the Sex Offenders’ Register

Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPO)

Defendants who have been sentenced for indecent images offences might have been made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO). This is a civil order which, prior to March 2015, was known as a Sexual Offence Prevention Order (SOPO).

Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 allows a court to make a SHPO in relation to a defendant who has been convicted of indecent images offences. The court must be satisfied that it is necessary to make a SHPO to protect the public or any particular members of the public in the UK from sexual harm, or to protect children or vulnerable adults generally, or any particular children or vulnerable adults outside the UK from sexual harm.

A SHPO prohibits a defendant from doing anything as described in the order. Typical prohibitions relate to the use of any computer or device capable of accessing the internet. An offender might be prohibited from using such a device unless they have notified the police of its acquisition, make it immediately available on request for inspection by a police officer and/or do not delete internet history from the device.

A SHPO will last for a minimum of five years and can be for an indefinite period. There is an exception to the minimum five-year period where foreign travel restrictions form part of the order. In this instance, the order must be for a fixed period of no more than 5 years

It is very important for an offender to comply with the prohibitions set out in a SHPO. Breach of these prohibitions could result in an offender committing a criminal offence under section 103I of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Depending on the severity of the breach, an offender could face a term of imprisonment, or be ordered to pay a fine, or both.

Article written by Lily Grundy

Click here to read more about on Sexual Harm Prevention Orders.

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