Sex Offenders Register

What is the register?

Sex offenders are subject to notification requirements when convicted of a specified offence and as a result are placed on the Sex Offenders Register commonly referred to as the register. All offenders placed on the Sex Offenders Register are recorded and managed on the ViSOR database. The ViSOR database is used by all police forces in Great Britain as well as number of other agencies including Criminal Justice Social Work and Scottish Prison Service.

Who is on the register?

Anyone who has been convicted of a sexual offence which is listed within Schedule 3, Sexual Offences Act 2003 automatically becomes subject of notification requirements. In addition, if a Sheriff or Judge deems there to be a significant sexual element to any crime not already listed in Schedule 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 they can utilise paragraph 60 of that Schedule to make that person subject of notification requirements.

What are the notification requirements?

The notification requirements for Registered Sex Offenders is a set of instructions that they must comply with when placed on the Sex Offenders Register. The Sex Offenders Register and notification requirements were introduced on 1 Sept 1997. Since this date legislation has been updated and a number of changes made to the notification requirements placed on Registered Sex Offenders.

An offender who becomes subject to the notification requirements must, within 3 days of conviction, notify the police, in person and at a prescribed police station, of their name, address, date of birth, passport details, credit card, and bank details and national insurance number. If the offender is in prison on the day that this requirement falls due then they must make this notification within 3 days of their release.

Such offenders must then notify the police, within 3 days, of any changes to the details listed above. They must also notify the police, within 3 days, if they spend 7 days or more (whether consecutively or within a twelve month period) at an address they have not already notified to the police. 

Offenders must also notify the police at least 7 days before departure or as soon as is reasonably practical of any foreign travel. All offenders must now ensure that they re-confirm the notified details listed above at least once every 12 months.

What is the consequence of not complying with the notification requirements?

If an offender fails to comply with these notification requirements then they commit a criminal offence and are liable to a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

What does the term sex offender actually mean?

The term "sexual offence" covers a wide range of criminal offences characterised by a sexual motive or inappropriate sexual behaviour.

They can include rape, sexual assault, sexual activity with someone under the legal age, child sexual abuse, indecent exposure and possession of indecent images of children.

Who is responsible for sex offenders?

Each sex offender is ultimately responsible for their own behaviour but MAPPA and the involved agencies of Police, Prison Service, Local Authorities and Social Work Services has a responsibility to manage sex offenders to reduce the risk of harm.

The public have a role to play in this by reporting any concerns or issues to any of the involved agencies.

Is there any such thing as a typical sex offender?

No, sex offenders are from all walks of life and can be male and female. They display a wide range of offending behaviour from sexually inappropriate language to Rape. Sex offenders do not just offend against children with adults also being the victims of their crimes.

People who commit sexual offences differ in their level of impulsiveness, their sexual interests, their attitudes and beliefs about offending, their level of risk to the public, and their desire to change their behaviour.

What should I do if I have particular concerns about a sex offender?

The number of offenders in our community who pose a risk of serious harm to others is thankfully very small. However, the thought that a person may pose a risk of serious harm to you or someone you care about could be very distressing, and it may be difficult to know who to speak to. If any person has information to suggest a child has, is or is likely to be at risk of harm immediate contact should be made with police or social work.

Community disclosure, also known as Keeping Children Safe is now in place throughout Scotland. The scheme allows parents, carers or guardians with concerns about a child under the age of 18 years to make a formal request for the disclosure of information about a named person who may have contact with their child if they are concerned that that person may be a Registered Sex Offender.

Information can only be given to a parent, carer or guardian but if you have concerns about a person’s access to a child you should make the call. You can either attend or phone your local police office and request that you would like to raise concerns about a particular child. Details will then be noted and an assessment of the potential risk and information will be completed by the police. Each case will be dealt with on a case by case basis.