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Update regarding Sexual Harm Prevention Orders

Update regarding Sexual Harm Prevention Orders

Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPO) are a common additional order imposed by a court following convictions for sexual offences. They may include preventing travel overseas, restrictions on certain forms of employment and limiting internet usage for the offender. A SHPO lasts for a minimum of 5 years and has no maximum length. The purpose of an SHPO is to protect the public from sexual harm.

The Court of Appeal has recently reviewed the way SHPOs are considered and imposed in the Crown Court. Recent cases have revealed a number of issues relating to SHPOs. This had led to the following guidance being issued.

Indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Orders

A SHPO should not be made for an indefinite period without careful consideration. The sentencing judge looking to impose an indefinite SHPO should give reasons for doing so and justify doing so. If a SHPO is imposed for a longer duration than the statutory notification requirements the notification arrangements apply for the same period of time.

Blanket bans on internet use

The Court of Appeal has said that it could not go as far to say that blanket bans could never be justified. However, it stressed that unless a case was considered exceptional, a blanket ban would be considered "unrealistic, oppressive and disproportionate - cutting off the offender from too much of everyday, legitimate living".


The Court of Appeal confirmed that when it comes to SHPOs, there is no difficulty with prohibiting the offender from contacting a person under 18. However, it acknowledged that individual cases and circumstances might justify confining a prohibition to children under 16.

Monitoring software and managing risk

Monitoring software should be considered and installed once an offender has purchased a device that can access the internet. The device should be able to retain and display the internet use history. The offender should be prohibited from deleting the internet history. Also, if the device is requested for inspection by the police, it should be made available immediately.

Cloud storage 

The Court of Appeal has recognised that some electronic devices provide access to cloud storage. SHPOs should now also target storage facilities which are, or can be, installed by an offender without the police being notified. 

Encryption software

SHPOs can include the installation of encryption or wiping software.

It is possible for you to appeal against an SHPO or to apply to vary it or have it discharged. Therefore, if you are currently subject to a SHPO and feel the new guidance means your case should be reviewed please contact us.

Our team of specialist sexual offence solicitors are experts with SHPOs. Please contact us in London (West Drayton) on 01895 449288 or in Hertfordshire (St Albans) on 01727 840900 or by email via our contact page.

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