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What is a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO)?

Sexual Harm Prevention Orders replaced Sexual Offences Prevention Orders (SOPO) and Foreign Travel Orders (FTO) in March 2015 following implementation of the Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The purpose of the order is to protect the public from sexual harm by restricting your behaviour. For example, if you have been convicted of an offence of downloading indecent images of children, your access to the internet, or to devices that connect to the internet, may be restricted.

A SHPO can be given to anyone convicted of:

  • A sexual offence listed in Schedule 23 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • Certain non-sexual offences listed in Schedule 5 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003

SHPOs may also be given to people in the community who have not necessarily been convicted of a sexual offence, but whose behaviour is deemed by the police to be particularly risky. In these cases, the police or the National Crime Agency can apply to the court to make a SHPO.

 

A SHPO can place restrictions on you, including restrictions on travelling abroad (or to specific countries), but it cannot enforce that you do certain things, such as attending a sex offender programme.

A SHPO will apply for a minimum five-year period, but can also be set indefinitely. If no specific period is set, the SHPO will apply until you appeal it, until it is discharged or a new order is made. Foreign travel restrictions last for a maximum period of five years.

When issuing a SHPO, the following apply:

  • Restrictions placed on you must be necessary and proportionate, and relate to future risk as well as past offending
  • The conditions must be able to be complied with without unreasonable difficulty
  • The conditions should not be such that they are likely to be breached accidentally
  • Provisions should be tailored to your specific offence and circumstances. Certain blanket prohibitions, for example relating to the use and ownership of mobile phones and computers, have been held by the Court of Appeal to be disproportionate

You have the right to appeal against your SHPO, or to apply to vary your order. If you received the order upon sentencing at a Magistrates’ Court, you should make your application to the Crown Court. If you were originally sentenced at the Crown Court, you should make your application to the Court of Appeal.

There are no specific criteria that the court must consider in such applications, but recent cases suggest that if you are applying to discharge your order entirely you must be able to demonstrate a change in circumstances.

If you wish to appeal, vary or discharge your order, it is best to seek legal advice. You may be able to get legal aid, but this is likely to be very difficult.

If you fail to comply with any of the conditions of your SHPO, this may result in a criminal conviction carrying a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

If you have been given an SHPO as a result of accepting a police caution or upon conviction at court, this will form part of your criminal record and will be disclosed on criminal record checks. Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, an SHPO becomes spent at the end of the order.

While your conviction is unspent, you must disclose it to any employer, education institution or insurance provider that asks you for a criminal record declaration. You do not need to declare it if you are not asked, unless the police or your probation officer require you to declare it.

Once your conviction is spent, you will not need to declare it when applying for insurance and you will not need to declare it when applying for most jobs and most courses, although there are some exceptions. Please see here for further details.

Criminal recrod support service staff member on Nacro helpline

You can contact us on 0300 123 1999 helpline@nacro.org.uk

Monday – Thursday: 9am – 5pm
Friday: 1pm – 5pm

Our advisors can help you with any questions you may have.