The Sex Offenders Register - What is it and how will it affect me?

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At PCD Solicitors we regularly act for clients that wish to appeal or apply for an amendment of their notification requirements. These requirements are usually imposed following a conviction of a sexual offence. We are often asked by new and existing clients what are 'notification requirements'? Do they apply to me? And most of all, how will they affect my life?

The notification requirements for those convicted or cautioned for sexual offences (commonly referred to as the ‘sex offenders’ register’) were initially introduced in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as part of the Sex Offenders Act 1997.

This has since been amended and notification requirements are now recognised under part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Notification requirements are an automatic requirement for offenders who receive a conviction or caution for certain sexual offences. The requirements also apply to those found ‘not guilty’ by reason of insanity or to have been under a disability but have done the acts charged against them.

The notification requirements are not a punishment for a sexual offence and are not part of the system of penalties. However, an offender may feel very differently about this point and actually feel very restricted by the requirements imposed on them.

The notification requirements are not dependent on an order of the court, an offender subject to the requirements becomes subject automatically because they have been convicted, cautioned, reprimanded or warned for a ‘relevant offence’.  It is often the case that defendant’s are advised to report to their local police station following their first appearance in court, where a guilty plea is entered, this is dependent on whether the offence is a ‘relevant offence’ and a conviction triggers the requirements.

What is a relevant offence?

A relevant offence is an offence listed within Schedule 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 The offences include but are not limited to; rape, the possession and distribution of indecent photographs of children and, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. The offences do apply to most sexual offences and also those that do not necessarily involve children. Age and sentence thresholds have been applied to some of the offences to ensure that only the most serious offending will trigger the requirements. For example; in the case of an offence of sex with an adult relative, an offender will only be required to register if they are sentenced to a term of imprisonment or detained in hospital.

For any person convicted or cautioned for an offence the applicable thresholds have to be met to trigger notification requirements.

It is always advised to seek advice relevant to your individual circumstances from a specialist solicitor if you believe you have committed a ‘relevant offence’.

How long will I be subject to notification requirements?

Section 82 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides that the period of time an offender is required to comply with the notification requirements, depends on how that offender was dealt with in respect of the ‘relevant offence’ and their age.

The table below provides a guide in relation sentences and the notification period.


Notification period (aged 18 or over upon conviction)

Notification period (aged under 18 upon conviction)

Imprisonment for 30 months or more (including life)

Indefinite period

Indefinite period

Admission to hospital subject to a restriction order

Indefinite period

Indefinite period

Sentence to imprisonment for more than 6 months but less than 30

10 years

5 years

Imprisonment for 6 months or less

7 years

3.5 years

Admitted to hospital without a restriction order

7 years

3.5 years

Is cautioned by the police for a ‘relevant offence’

2 years

1 year

Is given a conditional discharge

The duration of the conditional discharge

The duration of the conditional discharge

Received any other disposal (such as a community punishment of fine)

5 years

2.5 years

Individuals subject to an extended sentence should be aware that the notification period is calculated by using the whole term. For instance, if sentenced to four months plus a four month extended supervision period the term would be eight months. The resultant notification period would therefore be 10 years rather than 7 years which would have resulted from a four month custodial sentence.

What is expect of me now that I am subject to notification requirements?

The police hold all details of those convicted of relevant sexual offences in a database, this is to monitor and control any likelihood of re-offending and to ensure the public are protected from any potential harm. 

The police may attend the home of a convicted sex offender to conduct a risk assessment under the Multi- Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). The frequency of visits is determined by the level of a risk an offender may present. An offender is not obliged to allow officers to enter their home however, the police can seek to obtain a warrant from the Magistrates to enter and search the premises should they have the relevant legal grounds to do so. 

The police must also be informed of all foreign travel 7 days prior to any departure from the UK. They must also be updated regularly in relation to any changes in your circumstances, such as your living arrangements. 

I have been convicted of a ‘relevant offence’ what do the police need to know upon initial notification?

Upon conviction you are advised to attend your local police station and provide the relevant information. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Notification and Requirements) England & Wales) Regulations 2012 require a convicted sex offender who qualifies for notification requirements to inform the police not only of their basic personal information but also notification of all foreign travel, notification of when they are residing in a house with a child for more than 12 hours, notification of all bank account details and changes to those where applicable, and also passport details. This information must be provided to a nominated police station with three days of a conviction, caution, reprimand or warning fo a 'relevant offence'. 

Can I appeal my notification requirements?

The Supreme Court decided that the indefinite notification requirements were incompatible with Article 8 (right to family and private life) of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). In response to this on 30th July 2012 the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Remedial) Order was introduced as mechanism for offenders to seek a review of their indefinite requirements.

The law states that offenders who have been subject to notification requirements for a period of 15 years in the case of an adult and 8 years in the case of a juvenile are eligible to make an application for review.

We often represent client’s in relation to making an application for requirements to be amended to both the police and Magistrates Court. It is imperative any application is carefully drafted to ensure that the courts can be satisfied that an offender is no longer a risk of re-offending and that their circumstances have changed compared to their circumstances at the time of the offence.

When making any application for amendment of the requirements or appealing the requirement to still notify, we will take your detailed instructions and discuss your personal circumstances in detail to enable us to present the strongest application possible to the police/court. 

How can we help you?

If you are currently facing allegations that could potentially lead to restrictions being placed on your every day life, we are here to advise you on the law and guide you through the process with an aim to securing the best result for you.

We are passionate about working with our clients to prove their innocence at the police investigative stage or at court. We work incredibly hard on our client's behalf to ensure any decisions reached by the court or police are fair and just.

Should you intend to plead guilty to a sexual offence, we can prepare your case and mitigation thoroughly with a view to the most lenient sentence being imposed, in turn ensuring you are only made subject to notification requirements for the shortest possible period.

Should you wish to discuss appealing your notification requirements or require general advice in relation a sexual offence allegation, please contact our office on 0151 705 8488 for a free and confidential chat.