On 30 July 2012 the Sexual Offences Act 2003 was amended by the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Remedial) Order 2012 to introduce a mechanism which will enable registered sex offenders who are subject to notification requirements for life to apply for those requirements to be reviewed.
The Secretary of State has issued statutory guidance under section 91F(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which is intended to assist the police to apply the new review process. It is expected that the guidance will also assist practitioners in their understanding of the new process.
In accordance with the Sexual Offences Act 2003, a sex offender who is sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 30 months or more will be subject to notification requirements (more commonly known as the sex offenders’ register) for life. Prior to the amendments made by the remedial order coming into force, those sex offenders subject to the indefinite notification requirements had no possibility of reviewing those requirements.
On 21 April 2010, the Supreme Court declared in ‘R (on the application of F and Angus Aubrey Thompson) v Secretary of State for the Home Department’  UKSC 17 that the provision in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 about indefinite notification requirements for sex offenders without the right to have them reviewed is incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (respect for private and family life).
To remedy this incompatibility the department laid a proposal before Parliament on 16 June 2011. On 13 October 2011, the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) published its first report on that proposal and made a number of recommendations. The government responded fully to the JCHR in a command paper and laid a revised draft remedial order before Parliament on 5 March 2012.
On 28 May, the JCHR published its second report in which it accepted that the provision made by the draft order was sufficient to remedy the incompatibility with Article 8 identified in ‘F & Thompson’. The government’s formal response to the second report of the JCHR is available to view below.
The remedial order ensures that the notification regime in the 2003 Act is no longer incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and that the government complies with its obligations under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998.
It provides a mechanism for reviewing the indefinite notification requirements for registered sex offenders under section 82(1) of the 2003 Act.
Persons will not come off the register automatically. Qualifying relevant offenders will be required to submit an application to the police seeking a review of their indefinite notification requirements. This will only be once they have completed a minimum period of time subject to the notification requirements (15 years from the point of first notification following release from custody for the index offence for adults and 8 years for juveniles).
The review of the application will be completed by the police and take into account a wide range of factors, including information provided from a number of bodies which operate within the multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) framework (under section 325 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003). The matters which form the basis for the review are set out in section 91D(2) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
There will be a right of appeal in relation to the decision of the police to the magistrates’ court.
Sex offenders who continue to pose a risk will remain on the register and will do so for life, if necessary.
Public safety will always be the first priority for the government. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Remedial) Order 2012 ensures that that we have a process in place which is robust, workable and puts public protection first.
Sex offender policy is a devolved matter and it is open to Scotland and Northern Ireland to legislate separately in response to the Supreme Court judgment.
Scotland, following a period of consultation on the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Remedial) (Scotland) Order 2010, has revoked the order and replaced it with the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Remedial) (Scotland) Order 2011, which came into force on 28 January 2011.
Please email SexOffenderManagement@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk if you have any queries relating to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Remedial) Order 2012.
Final regulatory and equality impact assessment.
The government’s response to the report of the JCHR on the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Remedial) Order 2011.
This impact assessment (and equality impact assessment) states the options under consideration for the review of offenders subject to indefinite notification requirements under Part 2 of Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Provides guidance in relation to the new process for reviewing the indefinite notification requirements applying to registered sex offenders under the 2003 Act.
Letter from Lynne Featherstone to Hywel Frances outlining the government’s response to the JCHR report on the draft Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Remedial) Order 2012.