The Police Perspective on Sex Offender Orders: A Review of Policy and Practice in England and Wales

Nerys Thomas, Home Office, London

In recent years there has been growing concern about the risk that sex offenders pose in the community. The British government has responded by introducing a range of legislation to aid the monitoring and management of such offenders. Sex Offender Orders (SOOs) are one example, and were inrroduced under the Crime and Disorder Act (1998). Sex Offender Orders aim to 'provide an additional measure of protection to the public from sex offenders'. They serve to prohibit an offender from certain types of behaviour that have previously been a precursor to offending, and in this way, help prevent further serious offences being committed.

This paper examines the use of SOOs by the police between 1 December 1998 to 31 March 2001. it draws on the findings of a telephone survey of all forces in England and Wales and interviews conducted with key personnel in 16 police forces. This paper provides an overview of the national picture in relation to SOOs, their varied use across forces and explores some of the reasons why this distribution is so uneven. The paper concludes by considering the development of more effective practices for dealing with the management of sexual offenders across police forces and implications for both practitioners and policy.

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Updated 05/20/2006