The rise of civil orders in the criminal courts:
There has been a noticeable rise in civil orders over the last few years.
Civil orders allow criminal courts to tailor-make bespoke packages to fit the offender at the point of sentence. The aim is to reduce the risk of repeat offending and better protect the public.
The strict rules of evidence in criminal courts tend not to apply so hearsay evidence, usually deemed inadmissible during a criminal trial, can be taken into account when making a civil order.
Some civil orders do not even require a criminal caution or conviction, yet breaching a civil order often leads to a criminal offence attracting a maximum custodial sentence of five years on indictment.
The rise of ‘Sexual Risk Orders’:
In 2015, Sexual Risk Orders (SROs) were introduced under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
SROs are civil not criminal orders and unlike Sexual Harm Prevention Orders, SROs can be imposed without there having to be a criminal caution or conviction for a sexual offence to trigger such.
In terms of procedure, the police or the National Crime Agency (NCA) will apply for a SRO to be made against an individual in the magistrates’ court.
Previously, the required standard of proof was that of the criminal standard but that changed on 29/11/22.
Section 174 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 amended section 122A(6) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 by lowering the required standard of proof, from the criminal standard to the civil standard.
Since 29/11/22, Magistrates or District Judges only have to be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that an individual has committed at least one act of a sexual nature.
If satisfied, a SRO will be imposed if considered necessary to protect the public from the risk of future sexual offences.
The amended legislation has already seen a rise in applications for SROs, the consequences of such can be significant for those targeted.
SROs will often include an electronic monitoring requirement, residential notification requirements and sometimes a ban on foreign travel for up to five years.
The criteria for making a SRO is contained in section 122A(6) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
For further details:
If you are the subject of an application for a Sexual Risk Order and require legal advice and assistance, you might wish to speak to one of our lawyers in confidence. Please contact the Public Defender Service at any one of our four offices. We are available 24hours a day, 365 days of the year.
Cheltenham: 01242 548270
Darlington: 01352 289480
Pontypridd: 01443 629724
Swansea: 01792 633 280