Sexual Risk Orders (SROs) are a pain to the uninitiated. To be frank, they are a pain to the initiated too.
They are civil orders that were introduced in 2014 that allow authorities to apply for a set of restrictions on individuals without them being convicted of a crime. These restrictions can last anywhere from two years to an indefinite period of time and a person who breaches them may receive up to five years in prison.
They are initially heard in the Magistrates’ Court which means the brief is normally dealt with by a solicitor or a junior barrister. However, SROs can involve sexual allegations such as rape or indecent assault on a child, which are more grave than a junior advocate or a bench would normally deal with in the course of ordinary Magistrates’ work.
SROs are also governed by the civil rules of evidence which require more effort to navigate for parties who are used to dealing with the criminal procedural rules.
Furthermore, they can involve a great deal of paperwork and legal argument, which can make them extremely time consuming and financially draining if they are not billed properly.
The Secretary of States' Guidance provides an outline of Sexual Risk Orders and Sexual Harm Prevention Orders but there is relatively little advice for advocates on how to navigate an SRO brief and successfully argue it.
To assist with this process, I have prepared “A Guide to Sexual Risk Orders” which outlines what SROs are, what needs to be proven, how to prepare for a hearing and the procedural rules regarding legal aid, term variation and appeal.
Hopefully this will make the task of preparing for an SRO hearing a little easier.
For those interested in learning more about Behavioural Control Orders, JUSTICE have prepared an excellent report outlining many of the common issues that arise, with recommendations for change.
Karlia Lykourgou is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers specialising in criminal law and professional discipline.