Violent and Sex Offender Register

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In the United Kingdom, the Violent and Sex Offender Register (ViSOR) is a database of records of those required to register with the Police under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (the 2003 Act), those jailed for more than 12 months for violent offences, and those thought to be at risk of offending. In response to a Freedom of Information request in 2009, for example, Greater Manchester Police reported that of 16 people in their area placed on ViSOR since 2007 on their initiative and not as a result of a relevant conviction, 4 (25%) had clean criminal records.[1] The Register can be accessed by the Police, National Probation Service, and HM Prison Service personnel. Private companies running prisons are also granted access.[2] It is managed by the National Policing Improvement Agency of the Home Office.

Notification periods for offenders sentenced under the 2003 Act are as follows:[3]

Finite notification periods are halved if the person is under 18 when convicted or cautioned.

In April 2010 the United Kingdom Supreme Court ruled that indefinite notification requirements contained in section 82(1) of the 2003 Act were a breach of individual human rights as they were disproportionate.[4][5] As a result of this, appeals against indefinite inclusion within the register were introduced. Appeals can be made to the local police force by an offender after inclusion on the register for 15 years. If the local police force declines to remove the offender from the register, they may appeal to a magistrates' court.[6]

Information held on ViSOR[edit]

Upon initial registration, offenders must provide the police with the following information:

  • Full name
  • Home address
  • Date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • Bank details
  • Passport details (if held)

Additionally, when Visited by MAPPA officers, they will be invited to, but need not, provide:

  • Employers name and address
  • ISP details
  • Car registration
  • Telephone number(s)

Offenders must inform the police within 3 days if there are any changes in their name, address, bank details, passport or other ID document.

Offenders must also inform the police at least 7 days in advance of any foreign travel[7] (it used to be only if it was for a period of 3 days or more), and they must register any addresses in the UK at which they stay for more than a total of 7 days within any 365-day period. They must provide:

  • Date of departure;
  • Destination country (or, if there is more than one, the first);
  • Point of arrival in each country to which he/she intends to travel;
  • Carrier(s) he/she intends to use;
  • Return date;
  • Point of arrival on return to UK;
  • Accommodation arrangements for the first night.

Offenders must confirm their registration annually.[8] That is, if they have not needed to inform the police of any changes above, they must attend a designated police station to register if they have not done so for a year. Failure to comply is an offence, subject to a penalty five years imprisonment.

On August 13, 2012, an amendment to the 2003 Sexual Offences Act, came into effect where a subject of the Sexual Offenders Register is now required to provide the police with details of all bank accounts, credit cards, passport details and any foreign travel regardless of its duration. They are also required to notify to the police weekly if they are not registered as regularly residing or staying at one place. They also have to notify the police where they are living in a household with a child under the age of 18.[9]

Development[edit]

Construction of the ViSOR application began in January 2003, with a first release of functionality to a pilot site November 2003. The system was subsequently rolled out to a further three pilot sites during early to mid-2004. National (UK) rollout began November 2004, and was completed April 2005.

ViSOR is now in use across all 52 geographic police forces in the UK. Roll out to the Prison and Probation services of England and Wales was scheduled for 2006/7, but was considerably delayed and not completed until the autumn of 2008.

European Sex Offender Database[edit]

MEPs have shown support for a European Sex Offender Database.[10] In 2007 a NSPCC report suggested the failure of EU countries to share criminal records properly and was in their opinion "leaving children at risk in the UK."[11]

In 2008 the High Court ruled that permanent inclusion on the register was disproportionate and incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights.[12]

A number of European countries such as Spain, Germany and Italy that in the past have stated[citation needed] that sex offenders' registration as in the UK is a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights. France has though implemented a national judicial sex offender database, that has been adjudged to be legal by the European Court of Human Rights in the Gardel v. France decision.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]