FAQs about sexual harm prevention orders answered

Have you been accused of a sexual offence that you didn’t commit and are now confused as to why you have had a sexual harm prevention order placed upon you? This is a new law that came into play in 2022 and is a preventive measure in some instances and a deterrent in others.

If you want to learn more about your SHPO, you should always seek legal advice, but this article aims to answer 5 common queries about this order.

Why have I had a sexual harm prevention order placed on me?

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As your sexual offence solicitor will tell you, a sexual harm prevention order is placed onto somebody if they have been found guilty of rape, sexual assault or has had indecent images of children found on their computer to name a few examples. The police or the Magistrates Court may also look to have an SHPO placed on you if you are deemed to be at a high risk of committing a sexual offence in the future and, in this instance, it is seen as a preventive measure and is usually a temporary one.

Are there conditions?

Yes, an SHPO will always have conditions and for some people, this will involve needing to stay away from a certain person, needing to attend therapy or undertake other kinds of interventions to prevent you from committing the sexual offence that you may have already committed again. Or to prevent you from committing one in the first place. In order for you to have your SHPO removed as soon as possible, you should aim to comply with the conditions that have been placed as part of the order.

Can it be appealed?

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Yes, an SHPO can be appealed, but you will need the help of a solicitor who is trained in sexual offence law to do so. They will aim to prove that you are no longer a threat to the general community or to a specific person and will state that you have (hopefully) followed all of the guidelines set down in the SHPO. Please be aware that you should always be keeping in touch with your defence solicitor when you have an SHPO, as they can update you on any potential changes and will be able to identify any potential issues that you may have to have the order rewritten.

Will it restrict my travel?

If you have an SHPO placed on you, then it is highly likely that it will restrict your travel. This is because many countries such as the United States, Canada and a lot of the countries in Europe will not allow you to enter them if they find that you have an SHPO on your record. Some even go one step further; if you have had the SHPO removed, they may still not allow you access.

How long will it last?

Generally speaking, there are different types of sexual harm prevention orders and the length that they will be imposed for will vary based on why they have been imposed. If you have been found guilty of rape and are now released from prison, you may have an SHPO placed on you which will likely last for the rest of your life. If it has been found that you have indecent images of children on your computer, then you may have this order placed upon you for a predetermined period, during which you will likely need to undertake therapy.

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