JOINT

Call for evidence on review proposals for Sex Offenders Register

23 June 2011

On 14 June 2011, the Government published its proposals for the draft Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Remedial) Order 2011.

The Government proposes a new review mechanism which would allow offenders currently required to register under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for life to request a review of the risk they pose to the public after a number of years

The proposal is made in response to the judgment of the Supreme Court in F & Thompson v Secretary of State for the Home Department,[1] in which the current arrangements for lifelong registration on the Sex Offenders Register without possibility for review were found to be in breach of the right to respect for private life in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 8 has been interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights as requiring “independent review” of the justification for ongoing interferences with private life. The Supreme Court explained:

There must be some circumstances in which an appropriate tribunal could reliably conclude that the risk of an individual carrying out a further sexual offence can be discounted to the extent that continuance of notification requirements is unjustified.[2]

The Government proposes to provide for a review on application to the relevant Chief Police Officer after 15 years’ registration. Offenders who are aged 18 or under on release from their custodial sentence will be entitled to apply for a review after 8 years’ registration. In Scotland an urgent Remedial Order came into force in January 2011. There, an initial review is conducted by the Chief Police Officer and all offenders have the right to appeal that decision to the Sherriff Court.[3]

The Joint Committee on Human Rights is required by its terms of reference to report to Parliament on any Remedial Order made under the Human Rights Act. The Committee proposes to report on this proposal for a Remedial Order by 14 October 2011.

The Committee invites submissions by 19 July 2011 from interested groups and individuals on any aspect of the proposed Remedial Order, including in particular on the following issues:

  • Are there "compelling reasons" for the Government to introduce this change by Remedial Order?
  • Is it appropriate for the Order to be a non-urgent Order?
  • Does the Government proposal remove the incompatibility with the right to respect for private life in Article 8 ECHR identified by the Supreme Court?

In particular:

  • Does review by a Chief Police Officer satisfy the requirement for independent review by an appropriate tribunal required by Article 8 of the ECHR?
  • Does the possibility of judicial review of the Chief Police Officer’s decision satisfy the requirement for independent review?
  • Should any review be conducted by a judicial body or tribunal, or should a statutory right to appeal to a judicial body or tribunal be provided?
  • Are the timescales for review appropriate?
  • Do the Government’s proposals adequately accommodate the need for the recognition of the rights of child offenders under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?

Notes

Remedial Orders are secondary legislation made under the Human Rights Act 1998. They are used to remove incompatibilities with the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) in primary legislation identified by either domestic courts or the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

The text of the Remedial Order can be found at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/legislation/sexual-offences-remedial-order/

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to [email protected] and marked “Sexual Offences Register Remedial Order”. An additional paper copy should be sent to: Greta Piacquadio, Joint Committee on Human Rights, 7 Millbank, London SW1A 0AA.

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the Joint Committee on Human Rights will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. View guidance on giving evidence to Select Committees.

Please also note that:

  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
  • Evidence becomes the property of the Committee, and may be printed, placed on the Internet or circulated by the Committee at any stage. You may publicise or publish your evidence yourself, but in doing so you must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee. Evidence published other than under the authority of the Committee does not attract parliamentary privilege. If your evidence is not printed or otherwise published, it will in due course be made available to the public in the Parliamentary Archives.
  • All communications to the Committee about the inquiry should be addressed through the Clerks or the Chair of the Committee, whether or not they are intended to constitute formal evidence to the Committee.

 [1] [2010] UKSC 17
 [2] F & Thompson, para 57.
 [3] Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Remedial)(Scotland) Order 2011, SSI, 45/2011.

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