Sexual Risk Order - Successfully Challenged

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Sexual Risk Orders (SROs) can restrict an individual in many ways, from their contact with children to their ability to work, use electronic devices freely and they also tarnish a persons reputation. Our blog on Sexual Risk Orders explains what an SRO is, how they are made and the affect they can have. Below we discuss a recent case where we have successfully defended our client and prevented the making of a Sexual Risk Order against him. 

PCD Solicitors have successfully challenged an application for a Sexual Risk Order (SRO), made by North Cumbria Police against our client. We successfully opposed the application for the order on the grounds that it was not necessary. Here we explain what happened in our client's case. 


Mr Y was subject to a police investigation by Devon Constabulary in January 2021, it was alleged that he was speaking with another adult about the sexual abuse of a 12 year old girl, this discussion took place over a number of days and one year prior to the investigation beginning.

As part of the investigation Mr Y's electronic devices were seized, and a forensic examination of those was undertaken. It took one year for the device examination to conclude and for the results to be made available to police. Mr Y was interviewed by the police regarding the findings on his devices of the conversation he had had, and he made full and frank admissions to the allegations. He informed police that it was just a chat and there was no real intention for him to want to abuse any child. 

Further material was recovered from his device which indicated multiple similar chats which were dated 2019. All chats were provided to the court as evidence  when the police were applying for the SRO. 

The relevant offence

It must be noted that the conversations our client was having were with other adults, and therefore no offence had been committed against a child. The applicable offence to these circumstances is the offence of Obscene Publications, this is an offence contrary to the Obscene Publications Act 1959.

An article shall be deemed to be obscene if its effect or (where the article comprises two or more distinct items) the effect of any one of its items is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it. 

When it came to the decision as to whether our client could be prosecuted for this offence the police were out of time, this is an offence which is restricted to a two year time bar. This means an obscene publications prosecution may not be commenced more than two years from the commission of the offence. The Crown Prosecution Service refused to authorise the charges against our client. 

What happened next

Our client moved county from Devon to Cumbria. Cumbria Constabulary were informed of the investigation and commenced proceedings to obtain an SRO. When applying for an SRO there are two elements for the applicant, (in this case the police) to prove: 

1. An act of a sexual nature has taken place, and 

2. because of this it is necessary to impose the order. 

The act alleged to have take place can have happened either before or after the commencement of the Sexual Offence Act 2003. 

The police exhibited Mr Y's conversations to support their application, these conversations clearly shown an act of a sexual nature. Mr Y's own police interview shown an admittance to the conversations and therefore it was established that he was responsible for carrying out an act of a sexual nature. However, the hurdle which proved to be difficult for the police to over come was the question of whether it was necessary for the order to be made. 

What Restrictions Were The Police Seeking to Impose?

- Having unsupervised contact with children 

- Using any device capable of accessing the internet unless; the police were notified of the device and it was made available for inspection by a police officer upon request.

Mr Y was a father of one child and this would have had a huge impact on his right to a family life, and it also would have affected the child's right to the same. 

What We Did to Defend Our Client

Upon careful consideration of the police application and the evidence which was intended to be used against our client, we held lengthy discussions with Mr Y. We took a full background proof from him and carefully explained the process, the legal requirements for the police to be successful and on what basis we believed we could challenge this application. 

We then drafted a detailed response to the police, we challenged both points; that conversing with other adults was a sexual act, and the necessity of the order. 

We provided the applicable court with our written legal arguments in support of our client. A hearing was listed to allow both parties (PCD Solicitors on behalf of Mr Y and the police) to make arguments orally. We instructed one of our specialist barristers to attend court and to advance the arguments. 

It was made clear to the court that the offending had taken place two years prior, we cross examined the officer in charge of the case who confirmed this position. We also confirmed with the office that no further offending had taken place since 2019. We highlighted to the court that the purpose of an SRO was to prevent offending, it was not an order which should be put in place to impose punishment, which in this case it was clear the police were trying to do. 

After deliberations the court returned with their judgement, the court had agreed with our point on the necessity of such an order and ruled in Mr Y's favour - that the order was not necessary and would therefore not be imposed. 

We were extremely pleased for Mr Y and his ability to maintain his good reputation, clear police record and move forward with his life. 

This case was a clear example of police misusing their power in order to punish a person for an offence which they were out of time to prosecute. 

If you require any advice in relation to an order being made against you by the court then please contact our specialist team of lawyers to discuss this. Our initial consultation is free of charge and we will be pleased to spend our time discussing your case with you.