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Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

Part 9: Protection from sexual harm and violence

Sexual harm prevention orders and sexual risk orders, etc

29.The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (“the Sexual Offences Act”) contains provision for three civil preventative orders:

  • A sexual offences prevention order (“SOPO”) – This can be made where an offender has been convicted of a relevant sexual or violent offence and prohibitions are necessary to protect the public from serious sexual harm. A SOPO prohibits the offender from doing anything described in the order;

  • A foreign travel order (“FTO”) – This can be made where an offender has been convicted of a sexual offence involving children and there is evidence that the offender intends to commit further sexual offences involving children abroad. A FTO prohibits travel to the country or countries specified in it (or to all foreign countries, if that is what the order says); and

  • A risk of sexual harm order (“RoSHO) – This can be imposed where a person aged 18 or over has done a specified act in relation to a child under 16 on at least two occasions. To seek a RoSHO, it is not necessary for the defendant to have a conviction for a sexual (or any) offence. A RoSHO prohibits the defendant from doing anything described in it.

30.Section 113 and Schedule 5 amend the Sexual Offences Act to repeal the SOPO, FTO, and RoSHO in England and Wales and replace them with two new orders: the sexual harm prevention order and the sexual risk order. The creation of these new orders follows an independent review of the existing orders in the Sexual Offences Act carried out by Hugh Davies QC, which was published in May 2013.(13) That review concluded that the existing civil prevention orders were not fit for purpose and failed to deliver adequate protection for children from sexual abuse. The report recommended a rationalisation and strengthening of the civil orders provided for in the Sexual Offences Act. The aim of the new orders is to provide enhanced protection for both the public in the UK and children and vulnerable adults abroad.

Use of premises for child sex offences

31.The National Group on Sexual Violence against Children and Vulnerable People (SVACV) is a panel of experts that was established by the Government to co-ordinate and implement the learning from recent inquiries into historical sexual abuse and current sexual violence cases. On 24 July 2013, the Government published a progress report and action plan on the work of the Group.(14) The action plan included work to enhance measures to disrupt and prevent child sexual exploitation (“CSE”), including raising awareness within areas or environments associated with CSE, for example, the night time economy, hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation.

32.A feature of recent CSE cases has been the use of premises such as hotels, take-away outlets or accommodation to groom and sexually exploit children.

33.Powers to close premises are available under Part 2A of the Sexual Offences Act. However, these relate only to prostitution and pornography offences. They do not apply to premises which are being used to perpetrate other sexual offences against children. The provisions in section 115 of and Schedule 6 to the Act extend the closure powers in the Sexual Offences Act so that they can be used in connection with a wider range of offences and to conduct preparatory to offences (such as grooming). Sections 116 to 118 provide the police with an additional tool to tackle CSE taking place at hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfast accommodation. They will allow the police to require such establishments to provide information about guests, where they reasonably believe CSE has been or will be taking place on the premises.

Violent offender orders

34.Part 7 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 provides for violent offender orders (“VOO”), which are civil preventative orders that can be made by the courts on application from the police to impose restrictions on offenders convicted of specified violent offences who pose a risk of serious violent harm to the public in the UK. A VOO may contain any restriction the court considers necessary for protecting the public from serious violent harm, for example, by prohibiting an offender’s access to certain places, premises, events or people to whom they pose the highest risk. VOOs may also be made in relation to offenders with convictions for an offence committed overseas which would have been a specified offence had the act giving rise to the conviction been done in the United Kingdom.

35.The offences on the basis of which a VOO may be sought do not currently include murder committed overseas. Murder was not originally included on the list of specified offences, because an individual convicted in the UK would be subject to licence conditions for life, making a VOO unnecessary. To amend the list of offences in respect of which a VOO may be sought, primary legislation is required.

36.In a report into the circumstances of the death of Maria Stubbings, who was murdered by her ex-partner, Marc Chivers, the Independent Police Complaints Commission highlighted that gaps in the law in respect of the supervision of offenders convicted overseas presents a significant risk to public safety.(15)

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