Information relating to child sexual offenders: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

  1. Can child sexual violence offenders be restricted to their residences after being released from prison?(Parolees or a person who completes the execution of a sentence)?
  2. Is it possible for a suspended person?
  3. Is there any legal ground?
  4. What is the residential restriction period?
  5. Who decides(court or the parole review committee)?
  6. Who's the director?(probation officer)?
  7. How do you direct it?
  8. How do you know that they violated it?


If someone is convicted of a sexual offence (any sexual offence or one involving a child), their details will be held on the Sex Offenders Register. Notification requirements (instructions someone must follow if they're placed on the Sex Offenders Register) will apply to them and they will be considered a Registered Sex Offender (RSO).

Since 2007, all RSOs in Scotland are subject to multi-agency protection arrangements (MAPPA). These arrangements provide a robust framework to manage risk, including after a person is released from prison. Furthermore, all individuals convicted of sexual offences who receive sentences of six months or more are subject to licence conditions on release for the remainder of their sentence, in addition to sex offender notification requirements.

In Scotland, the majority of registered sex offenders (94%) comply with sex offender notification requirements imposed. For those who do not comply, swift action is taken by the police with those in breach facing penalties of up to five years in prison. Agencies, including the police and local authorities work together to assess and monitor individuals released – to reduce the risk they may pose to public. Agencies may also use a range of safeguards including surveillance, electronic tagging, curfews, sexual offence prevention orders and other civil orders which are intended to reduce the risk of sexual harm.

Sexual Harm Prevention Order

In Scotland, if the police believe that an individual has behaved in a way that suggests they might commit a sexual offence (including doing something in another country which would be a sexual offence if done in the UK) the Chief Constable can apply for a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO).

This is a preventative order which places restrictions and obligations on an individual. It could, for example, restrict them to their residence for particular periods, or require them to stay away from particular locations if the courts considered this was necessary and proportionate. The conditions listed in the order should be easily understood and enforceable. Any restriction or obligation should last for at least five years, except for a prohibition or restriction on foreign travel, which must be for a fixed period of not more than five years.

Breach of an SHPO without reasonable excuse is a criminal offence. An individual convicted of such an offence on summary conviction will be liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding £10,000 or both. An individual convicted on indictment will be liable to a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years or an unlimited fine or both.

It is for the Police to decide whether to apply for an SHPO. However, if justice partners have concerns about a sex offender in the community (or about to be released from prison into the community), it is expected that they would raise these with the police and share information to inform decision making.

In order to decide whether it is appropriate to apply for an SHPO the police will conduct an assessment of the risk posed by the individual. If an SHPO is considered appropriate the police will make a summary application to the court for an SHPO to be imposed. This should provide details of the recent concerning behaviour which has caused the application to be raised and should set out the proposed restrictions or obligations. It should also explain why these are deemed necessary and appropriate to protect the public.

Two things must be demonstrated to the court in order to make a valid application for an SHPO:

Firstly, that the individual is a “qualifying offender” as defined by Section 13 of the Abuse Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016. This includes an individual who has a conviction in respect of an offence listed in paragraphs 36 to 60 of Schedule 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Secondly, that the individual has (since the appropriate date has acted in such a way as to give reasonable cause to believe that an SHPO is necessary in order to protect the public, or any particular member of the public, in the UK, or to protect children or vulnerable adults abroad, from sexual harm from the individual.

Regarding curfews, Scottish Ministers set licence conditions for individuals released into the community who have served what is referred to as the ‘punishment’ part of their sentence. This will also apply to those convicted and sentenced to custody for sexual offences, including offences involving a child. For example, an individual may be ordered to comply with ‘licence condition 20’ – which will state that an individual comply with electronic monitoring and remain within the confines of an approved address between certain times. Again, for example, a condition may be set for an individual released on licence to be confined to their approved addressed between 8am and 10am and then 3pm to 10pm on weekdays, with possibly differing times set for weekend residence confinement. The nature of the monitoring and curfew will be tailored in regards to the risk that an individual may present. Local authorities in Scotland, where social workers or, what’s known as ‘supervising officers’, have responsibility for managing licence conditions with individuals released from prison, and also have responsibility for reporting breaches of licence to the Parole Board.

Again, if an individual breaches electronic monitoring or/and curfew conditions, they may be recalled to custody immediately to serve out the remainder of their sentence in prison.

You also ask about suspended persons, it is not at the moment possible to impose curfews for suspended sentences in Scotland but curfews can be a feature of either community based sentences, or can be used pre-sentence, as part of bail. Use of curfew in those circumstances is a decision for an independent court, within the current statutory framework, which for bail will include the recently passed Bail and Release from Custody (Scotland) Bill, and for community sentences will include legislation on Restriction of Liberty Orders, and on Community Payback Orders, details of which are available here:

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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