Varying or discharging Sexual Harm Prevention Orders and Sexual Risk Orders
Living with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) or a Sexual Risk Order (SRO) can have a huge impact on your life. Not only will your personal life be greatly affected, due to the fear and stress that comes with having such an order imposed on you, but your career is also likely to suffer - with the order appearing on PNC and enhanced DBS checks.
At Wells Burcombe, we understand how difficult it can be to live with either of these orders, especially if the terms do not align with your current circumstances or you feel that they are disproportionate to the alleged crime. In these sorts of situations, it may be possible to amend or discharge the SHPO or SRO, which is where we can step in to help.
Our expert sexual offences solicitors can provide tailored advice in relation to varying or discharging an SHPO and are on hand to answer any questions you might have related to the process.
We can advise on whether you likely have grounds for varying, discharging, or possibly appealing the order and can talk you through the whole process for doing so. We can then support you in making your application and can provide representation for any hearings that take place either in-house or by instructing specialist counsel.
What are Sexual Harm Prevention Orders and Sexual Risk Orders?
Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPO) are civil orders imposed by a magistrates' court or the Crown Court on individuals who have previously been convicted of a sexual offence and are considered to pose a risk of sexual harm to the general public or specific individual(s). SHPOs replaced Sexual Offences Provision Orders (SOPO) in 2015.
An SHPO can be imposed on any person who has been convicted of an offence listed under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 at the point of sentencing. Alternatively, if a person has a sexual offence on their criminal record, the police can subsequently apply to a magistrates' court for a standalone SHPO based on alleged behaviour which, for one reason or another, has not led to a prosecution.
An SRO is designed to accomplish the same end: to protect the public from a risk of sexual harm. The difference is that an SRO can be imposed by a magistrates' court even where the subject has no previous convictions at all, provided the court, based on the evidence presented to it, decides that the person is a risk to the public.
The terms originally attached to an SHPO or SRO are not necessarily set in stone. It is possible for them to be varied, or discharged altogether, under an appropriate set of circumstances and with the right legal support.
When can an SHPO or SRO be imposed?
The court is able to impose an SHPO on anyone who has been convicted or cautioned of an offence listed in Schedule 3 or 5 of the Sexual Offences Act 2005.
An order can also be made against someone based on alleged behaviour, so long as the court is satisfied that the offender in question poses a risk of sexual harm to the public or members of the public.
Restrictions or prohibitions that are included in an SHPO must be considered necessary for the purposes of:
- Protecting the general public or any particular member of the public from sexual harm
- Protecting children or vulnerable adults generally, or any particular children or vulnerable adult from outside the UK
When deciding whether or not to impose an SHPO, the court will look at the perceived risk the offender poses, which will mean referring back to previous convictions, court orders, the type of alleged offence and any individual views related to the matter.
An SRO, as explained above, can be imposed where a person has no previous convictions but is deemed to present a risk to the public. These orders can only be applied for and granted by a magistrates' court following an application by the police, or the National Crime Agency.
What terms can an SHPO or SRO include?
Each order will be specifically tailored to the offence it relates to. The court has a wide discretion as to what terms are 'necessary' to protect the public in the circumstances of a given case.
Accordingly, the terms of both SHPOs and SROs can sometimes be very prohibitive and may include restrictions on a person's ability to work or otherwise be around children, to possess devices connected to the internet, or to travel abroad. However, the court has an equally wide discretion to vary such orders (see below).
Some of the requirements listed in the order may be for a fixed period, while others may last indefinitely.
How can an SHPO or SRO be varied or discharged?
It is important to note that, unless an SHPO or SRO is successfully appealed, it is not possible to discharge it within five years (SHPO), or two years (SRO), of the order being made without the consent and agreement of the individual subject to the order and the police. However, this does not prevent the court from removing or varying the order and its duration within that same period.
The imposition of an SHPO or SRO may be appealed if it is not properly suited to the circumstances, it is considered to be too wide in scope, or it is disproportionate to the conduct which has been alleged.
An order may also be varied if the individual's circumstances have changed since it was made, potentially relating to their behaviour or changed life circumstances.
To have an SHPO or SRO varied or discharged, an application needs to be made to the court that originally imposed the order in the first instance. This application can be made by the individual subject to the order, or the police.
Court proceedings may or may not be required, depending on whether the application to vary the order is agreed between the parties in the first instance.
How much does it cost to vary or discharge an SHPO?
In the vast majority of cases, applications to vary or discharge an SHPO or SRO are privately funded. The cost of making such an application will largely depend on the whether or not the application is contested.
This is something the team at Wells Burcombe can discuss with you in detail, advising you in relation to the specific details of your individual case.
Contact our sexual offences solicitors for advice about varying or discharging an SHPO or SRO
If you have been made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order or a Sexual Risk Order, our expert team of sexual offences solicitors can work alongside you to discuss your options for varying or discharging it.