News and Events

What is the Sex Offenders Register?

  • Posted

If you are found guilty of committing a sexual offence in the UK, you are liable to face a range of potential penalties, including lengthy prison sentences. However, regardless of whether you are imprisoned or simply receive a caution, after being found guilty of such an offence, you will also be placed on the Sex Offenders Register.

The Sexual Offenders Register contains the details of individuals who have been convicted, cautioned or released from prison for a sexual offence against children or adults since 1997.

Here, we discuss what the Sex Offenders Register is, what offences will see an individual placed on the Sex Offenders Register, the relevant timescales and the sort of impact it is likely to have, both in the short-term and the long-term.

What offences put you on the Sex Offenders Register in the UK?

In the UK, you will be placed on the Sexual Offenders Register if you are found guilty of any type of sexual offence against both children and adults. The precise offences are listed under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and can include, but are not limited to, acts such as:

  • Causing or inciting sexual activity
  • Child grooming
  • Child sexual offences
  • Cyber and social media offences
  • Indecent images
  • Rape
  • Revenge porn
  • Sexual assault

However, if you are sentenced to a Community Order of less than 12 months you will not be placed on the Sexual Offenders Register.

Does the Sexual Offences Register only apply to offences since 1997?

The sex offenders list was originally established by the Sex Offenders Act 1997, which was later amended by the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The Sex Offenders Register is not retroactive, which means it typically does not include the names of anyone convicted of a sexual offence before it came into effect, save for specific circumstances.

Does the Sexual Offenders Register only apply to child sexual offences?

No. While the Sex Offenders Register is often thought to be a list revealing the details of individuals who have been found guilty of committing sexual offences against children, nor is a ‘paedophile’s register’. Registered sex offenders are added to the list after being found guilty of committing any sexual offence against adults or children.

What information does a registered sex offender have to disclose?

Anyone registered on the sex offenders list is required to register with the police within three days of their conviction or release from prison. The police are able to monitor when individuals are required to register, as they will be notified by the courts or prison/probation service.

A registered sex offender must provide information, including:

  • Their name
  • Their address
  • Whether they are living with a child
  • Details of the conviction
  • Details of bank accounts
  • Date of birth
  • Their national insurance number
  • Passport details

It is a criminal offence if someone fails to register with the Sex Offenders Register within three days.

What are registered sex offenders not allowed to do in the UK?

Anyone listed as a registered sex offender cannot change any of the information they have previously supplied during the registration process without notifying the police within three days of it changing. Even if none of the details change, a report must still be submitted to the police every 12 months.

Registered sex offenders are also required to provide seven days’ notice to the police if they are planning to travel abroad, with details of their travel plans.

Specific restrictions may be in place if someone is also subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO). These may implement certain conditions, such as preventing someone from travelling abroad, from being able to access the internet without having computer monitoring software and not being allowed to visit places where there are likely to be children (e.g., a park).

Do sex offenders have to notify their neighbours in the UK?

The decision to disclose that someone is on the Sex Offenders Register is typically made on a case-by-case basis by the police or a probation officer. This means that the individual themselves is not necessarily required to notify a neighbour that they are on the sex offenders list.

Any decision to disclose by the authorities will usually be taken following a comprehensive risk assessment, which will take into account the potential consequences of disclosing to the individual and their family. If information is disclosed, this will usually be based on the risk of sexual harm to the public or specific individuals. For example, if you live in shared accommodation, the police may inform your housemates if they believe you present a risk.

Do sex offenders have to notify their employers in the UK?

Whether or not you need to notify an employer after being placed on the Sex Offenders Register will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Whether an offence is considered to be ‘spent’ under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
  • The type of job you may be applying for (such as if the job involves children)
  • Restrictions in place as per an SHPO

If an employer or recruitment agency has asked for a criminal record declaration, you are legally obligated to disclose your offence(s). Failing to do could lead to prosecution.

Who else will be notified about a registered sex offender?

Various other agencies can be notified about the movements of registered sex offenders on a confidential basis. These include:

  • Headteachers
  • Doctors
  • Youth leaders
  • Sports club managers
  • Landlords

How long do you stay on the Sex Offenders Register in the UK?

The amount of time you can spend on the Sex Offenders Register, which are also subject to notification requirements, will ultimately depend on the sentence or order you receive upon conviction.

For people aged over 18 at the time of conviction, the following applies:

  • Caution – 2 years
  • Conditional discharge – the length of the conditional discharge
  • Hospital order without restriction order – 7 years
  • 6 months or less imprisonment – 7 years
  • Between 6 and 30 months imprisonment – 10 years
  • Hospital order subject to a restriction order – Indefinite
  • Imprisonment for more than 30 months – Indefinite
  • Any other type of disposal (such as a Community Order >12 months) – 5 years

These periods are reduced if the individual is under 18 at the time of conviction.

Is it possible to be removed from the Sex Offenders Register in the UK?

If you are subject to notification requirements and are on the Sex Offenders Register for a fixed period, it is not possible to apply to be removed from the list.

However, if you are subject to notification for an indefinite period of time, it is possible to apply to be removed from the Sexual Offenders Register after 15 years (8 years for juvenile offenders).

It should also be noted that if you are subject to an SHPO that this needs to be removed before an application can be made regarding being removed from the Sexual Offenders Register.

Contact our sexual offence lawyers today

For a free initial consultation, urgent specialist advice, immediate representation, or to speak to us confidentially about allegations of committing a sexual offence and being subsequently placed on the Sex Offenders Register, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

You can contact our dedicated sexual offences lawyers in London, Birmingham, and Manchester by telephone on:

Or email:

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

24/7 legal representation for sexual offence allegations

Please get in touch for a free initial consultation with one of our expert criminal defence solicitors, as well as immediate representation and advice on dealing with allegations of sexual offences and the prospect of being placed on the Sexual Offenders Register.

We are available to represent clients all over England and Wales at any time, so please contact our Emergency Number at 07836 577 556.