Changes to Sex Offender Registration Requirements

21 August 2013

Previously, offenders were required to notify police of all foreign travel lasting 3 or more days, however the new notification requirements require offenders to notify the police of all foreign travel.  In addition, offenders with no main residence are now required to inform police weekly where they can be found and any offenders living in a household with a child under 18 must also notify the police.  In relation to requirements relating to documentation and other associated matters, the new regulations require notification of information concerning bank accounts, credit cards, passports and other forms of identification.

Questions have already been raised about potential Human Rights implications of the regulations on whether they would be open to any challenge.  This would be likely to stand or fall on whether or not the requirements are justified as necessary and proportionate to the end result that they have been introduced to achieve.  We would assume that the Government is reasonably confident that they are, as they have already said that the legislation is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights 1950.  However, it may be that some new requirements are more difficult to justify than others.  The requirement to notify police when an offender is living with a child under the age of 18 would seem to be fairly straight forward, however the requirements relating to registration of bank and credit card details may be as a subject of early dispute, and also there is potential argument that such regulations amount to a further 'punishment' which does not form part of an offenders sentence.   

Those who do not travel regularly will feel little impact from the changes in the regulations, however those who are required to travel regularly and of course those who have credit cards and bank accounts will feel it's affect more.  Those who committed offences many years ago may potentially benefit from the introduction of a new Registration Review Scheme, which was something the Government was required to introduce following a Supreme Court ruling and which has also come into force at the same time as the new notification requirements.

As ever anyone who feels that they are disproportionately effected by the regulations can seek to challenge them through the Courts, but in the meantime all offenders are required to comply with the new regulations.

As before enforcement of these requirements will be carried out by the police and non compliance is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

The new regulations are as a result of the Government's view that the previous requirements were not strict enough, the particular concern being the need to notify when travelling abroad for more than 3 days, leaving a 'loophole' for those travelling for a shorter period.  Whilst this particular area was of concern to the Government, it has accepted that it is not possible to quantify the extent of the 'loophole' and in turn quantify the extent of the perceived problems under the old regulations.

As ever, lawyers will await with interest the first challenges to these new regulations.  Any challenge to the regulations would be by way of a Judicial Review.