Indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Orders.

Posted: 17 January 2024


A Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) is an Order which can be imposed by the Court following conviction for a Sexual Offence as listed in either Schedule 3 or 5 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The purpose of such as order is to prohibit the defendant from certain things and thus, protecting the general public.

Length of a SHPO

The length of a SHPO should be no less than 5 years. The prohibitions of such order can vary but tend to include the following. For example, prohibitions to prevent defendants from accessing smart phones. Thereby limiting the options to search for indecent images in cases whereby defendants have accessed indecent images of children online.

Offenders subject to SHPO’s may be required to surrender any devices to specifically trained Police Officers at any given time to ensure that the terms of the order are being followed.

If a person is found to be in breach of the terms of the SHPO, this is a separate offence which can carry a custodial sentence.

Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO)

Recent Judgement

On the 19 December 2023, the Court of Appeal were asked to consider the imposition of an indefinite SHPO following an appeal by an Appellant. The Appellant was sentenced to a total custodial sentence of 2 years 8 months with an indefinite SHPO imposed. The appellant appealed against the imposition of the indefinite SHPO. On the basis that one should not be imposed unless the Court are satisfied that there is a sufficient need to do so. As per R v McLellan [2015] EWCA Crim 1464.

Case facts

The facts of the case relate to three counts on the indictment of making indecent images of children (Category A, B and C). Plus, one count of attempted sexual communication with children.

Court’s decision

The Court of Appeal, after consideration, refused the appellants appeal.  On the basis that the sentencing Judge bore in mind the seriousness of the offences. As well as the theme of the communication that was being had with children. Furthermore, the Judge stated that they were ‘absolutely convinced that an indefinite order was necessary to protect the public’.

How to reduce the chance of a SHPO

This Judgement is significant as it shows that whilst not imposed frequently. An indefinite order is a real possibility which can cause a significant impact to a defendant’s life and future prospects. Other than being required to be satisfied that an indefinite order is necessary, there is very little guidance in terms of what is required for necessity to be established. Thus, requiring an experienced advocate who is able to mitigate the offences and reduce the possibility of an indefinite SHPO.

Legal advice

If you are accused of a sexual offence and are concerned about the imposition of an indefinite SHPO. THB Solicitors we have many experienced Solicitors with a wealth of knowledge in SHPO’s and would be happy to assist you. Send an email , call 01473 226577 or complete our online form.

Suspended Sentences

What is a Suspended Sentence? A suspended sentence is a custodial sentence where the...

- 07 June 2024

Deprivation of Liberty Applications within Family Proceedings

“Liberty” is a right conferred by Article 5 of the European Convention of Human...

- 07 June 2024

The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024

Everything there is to know about The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024 In...

- 07 June 2024