police is published today by the Home Office.
The report 'The Police Perspective on Sex Offender Orders: A
Offender Orders are seen positively by the police as an active and
practical response to managing the risks posed by sex offenders.
The report identifies areas of good practice and offers
recommendations on how to improve the use of Sex Offender Orders,
calling on the Government to consider both extending the jurisdiction
of Orders and introducing Interim Orders.
Speaking at the Metropolitan Police Modernising Criminal Justice
conference today, the home secretary David Blunkett said the
government was already taking action.
Home secretary David Blunkett said:
'The research makes recommendations to help the police make more
effective use of Sex Offender Orders and the government is already
taking action to put those recommendations into practice.
'Today we are tabling amendments to the Police Reform Bill to give
greater flexibility to the police throughout the United Kingdom in
how they apply for Sex Offender Orders and how they are amended and
discharged; to extend the jurisdiction of Sex Offender Orders to the
United Kingdom as a whole; and to introduce interim Sex Offender
'We have been working with our colleagues in the devolved
administrations in order to bring about these changes at the earliest
The research finds that take-up of Sex Offender Orders has been far
higher than initially estimated with 92 Orders having been applied
for by early 2001, double early estimates by ACPO and the Home
Office. Since the research was carried the number has risen to around
170. 38 out of 43 forces (88%) had applied for an Order and the
success rate of these applications at court was also found to be very
The use of Sex Offender Orders was found to vary across different
force areas with some forces more proactive than others in seeking
orders (six forces account for nearly half of all Sex Offender
Almost half (46%) of the Sex Offender Orders identified in the study
had been breached, although the majority of breaches did not
constitute a serious offence being committed.
Sex Offender Orders are designed as a preventative measure to ensure
that substantive offences do not occur. Breaches of the requirements
of an Order alert the police that an offender is behaving in a way
that indicates he may commit a further offence, and allows them to
take action. Sentencing will vary from case to case depending on the
risk the offender poses and the nature of the breach. Serious
offences are likely to be tried separately or in conjunction with a
Of the breaches that had been tried at court, 97% resulted in a
guilty verdict. Sentencing for breaches was found to be variable,
with sentences ranging from fairly lengthy custodial sentences, to
small fines, to a sentence of binding over for five years.
Welcoming the research, Home Office minister Hilary Benn said:
'The report provides a useful insight into how Sex Offender Orders
are both used and perceived by the police. The research shows the
importance the police rightly place on the enhanced powers the Orders
give them, enabling them to intervene at a very early stage to
prevent serious crimes being committed.
'We are already taking action to address its main recommendations and
will also be discussing the research findings with all the relevant
agencies to disseminate good practice.
'Protecting the public is of the highest priority to the Government
and Sex Offender Orders are one of a number of practical measures we
have introduced to better manage sex offenders and the risk they
1. Police Research Series report 'The police perspective on Sex
Offender Orders: A preliminary review of policy and practice' can be
found on the Home Office website .
2. The report provides an overview of the use of Sex Offender Orders
in England and Wales since they came into force on 1 December 1998 to
31 March 2001.
3. The research is based on a telephone survey of all police forces
in England and Wales and in-depth interviews conducted with key
personnel from 16 forces.
4. Sex Offender Orders were introduced under the Crime and Disorder
Act 1998 and came into force on 1 December 1998.
5. The decision to apply for a Sex Offender Order lies with the
police. An Order can be used against anyone with a previous caution
or conviction for an offence listed in Schedule 1 of the Sex
Offenders Act 1997.
6. A Sex Offender Order is a civil order that requires the civil
standard of proof, however a breach constitutes a criminal offence
and attracts a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.
7. Home Office minister John Denham announced that the government
would be introducing amendments on Sex Offender Orders to the Police
Reform Bill on 7 May.