How long is someone on the Sex Offenders Register

How long is someone on the Sex Offenders Register

How long is someone on the Sex Offenders Register, and other questions about the Sex Offenders Register, such as the criteria for being named on the register, for how long are offenders on the register, for what period of time the sex offender will be tracked following their release from prison and whether you can find out if someone is on the Sex Offenders Register, is set out in this informative guide to assist those who may be concerned about a sex offender living in their neighbourhood.

Specialist Sexual Assault Solicitors

As specialist sexual abuse solicitors, supporting and acting for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and survivors of sexual assaults, including indecency, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, gross indecency and rape, we are sensitive to the issues arising out of such cases. We have many years of experience, of successfully acting for survivors of sexual assault, recovering substantial compensation from individuals and institutions, legally responsible for childhood sexual abuse and sexual assaults upon children and adults.

If you would like confidential advice as to whether you may be entitled to compensation as a consequence of a sexual assault, including those offences identified above, as well as voyeurism and up skirting, contact our abuse solicitors on 0333 323 1639. Alternatively, please email us at or complete our online form.

What is the Sex Offenders Register?

Although it is universally referred to as the Sex Offenders Register, it is a notification system, for sexual offenders to notify the police authorities of their movements following release from custody and the service of a prison sentence.

Does it apply to all sexual offences, whenever they occurred?

The Sex Offenders Register was established in 1997, following an Act of Parliament. It applies to all persons convicted of sexual offences after 1997 and, in limited circumstances, to individuals who were convicted prior to the Act coming into force.

Does the Sex Offenders Register only applied to offences against children?

The Sex Offenders Register is commonly thought of as a list of convicted paedophiles, although it is not a notification system limited only to offences against children, but also in respect of sexual offences against adults.

What sexual offences will result in a person being listed on the Sex Offenders Register?

Examples of sexual offences which will result in a person being listed on the Sex Offenders Register are as follows:

  • sexual assault, which is an individual intentionally touching another person sexually, without that person’s consent. Any form of sexual contact against the wishes of the victim’s sexual abuse. Examples of sexual assault include inappropriate touching, rape, penetration and underage sexual activity;
  • Abuse of position of trust;
  • Incitement of child under 16 to commit incest;
  • Familial child sex offences;
  • Abuse of children through prostitution and pornography.

How is the name of a sexual offender entered onto the Sex Offenders Register?

Within three days of conviction or release from custody the sexual offender is required to report to the police, to notify them of the following information:

  • Name. If the individual uses more than one name, to provide other names;
  • Home address. This means the individual’s sole or main residence;
  • Any other addresses that the offender stays at on a regular basis;
  • If the offender is living with a child, or staying in a home where a child lives for at least 12 hours each day;
  • Date and place of birth;
  • National insurance number;
  • Date of conviction, court and defence;
  • Passport details;
  • Details of bank or savings accounts

Does the sexual offender make one report to the police?

No. If any of the notification (report) details change the sexual offender must notify the police within three days.

Even if there are no changes the convicted sex offender is required to make an annual report, every 12 months, where they may be required to provide their fingerprints and an up-to-date photograph.

What happens if a sexual offender does not make an annual notification to the police?

Failure to make an annual notification or annual report to the police is a criminal offence and thus a further prosecution may follow.

What happens when a sexual offender appears on the Sex Offenders Register?

In addition to recording details as to where the sexual offender is living the police may also visit the individual to satisfy themselves as to the particulars provided by the individual.

The police can photograph the offender and take their fingerprints. The police can also exchange information they have about the sexual offender and their movements, with other police forces.

A police force may also apply for the registered sex offender to be prevented from certain activities and places where children congregate.

How long does a sex offender remain on the Sex Offenders Register?


Length of time on Sex Offenders Register



Life or imprisonment of 30 months




6 months to 30 months

10 years



6 months or less

7 years




2 years


Although the law stated that a sentence of life or imprisonment over 30 months will result in a sex offenders details remaining on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely, offenders can now apply to have their name removed.

In in 2011, a human rights case resulted in a change in the system. Two sex offenders successfully argued that it was unfair, to them, to have their names on the register indefinitely. The consequence of this is that offenders who are placed on the register indefinitely, can apply to be taken off after 15 years.

How easy is it to have your name removed from the Sex Offenders Register?

In 2020 the Daily Mail reported that following a Freedom of Information request sent to 43 police forces, figures from 36 of those police authorities revealed that only 363 of 1288 sex offenders had their applications, to be removed from the Sex Offenders Register refused.

The Daily Mail calculated this as meaning 72% of applicants, including those who received long jail sentences for raping children and distributing pornographic material, successfully applied to have their names removed from the Sex Offenders Register.

Indeed, the newspaper reported that nearly 100% of applications to the Merseyside police were successful (of having names removed from the Sex Offenders Register). Similarly, in Devon and Cornwall, more than 80% of sex offenders were permitted to have their name removed.

The Daily Mail also reported that in respect of two instances of individuals who had their name removed from the register, they were subsequently arrested in respect of rape allegations.

Can I find out if a paedophile is living in my town?

Yes, but there are restrictions.      (see How can I find sex offenders living near me?)

Can a sex offender change their name?

Although it is not illegal for a sex offender to change their name, they must tell officials that they have done so. Research in 2020 revealed that1300 sex offenders on the sex offenders register had notified the authorities of their name change.

In July 2020, the Safeguarding Alliance published the results of a freedom of information request, which revealed that hundreds of sex offenders had vanished from police monitoring. The whereabouts of 913 sex offenders were unknown, according to police records. There were concerns that those with new identities may be offending, again.

The Safeguarding Alliance will petition MPs to “revoke the right of registered sex offenders to change their name by deed poll”.

How can I find sex offenders living near me?

It is possible to find out if someone in your town, in your neighbourhood, in your road, is on the Sex Offenders Register.

Since 2011 it has been possible to make enquiries as to whether someone is on the Sex Offenders Register. The purpose of the scheme is to give parents, guardians and carers with information that will enable them to safeguard their children’s safety and welfare.

However, the aim of this scheme is not like the American scheme, where there is automatic disclosure of a child sexual offender to the general public.

Under the British scheme anyone can ask about a person, where they have concerns about that person and their contact with a child or children. Therefore, the scheme is not restricted to parents and guardians, but also extends to grandparents, a neighbour, or friend. This is to ensure that where there are concerns about child safety, those concerns can be thoroughly investigated.  

An example of how concerned may arise is when a new person has moved into a child’s life and the person concerned about this new person, would like to ensure that this person does not have a known history of offending, which would mean they pose a risk of serious harm to a child. Consequently, the threshold for an enquiry is low.

However, the individual expressing concern and asking about a person, who may be a sex offender, will not automatically receive disclosure about that person, as it may be more appropriate to give information about the sex offender to a parent, guardian or carer.

If the person (who is the subject of concern) has convictions for sexual offences against children and poses a risk to a child or children and, importantly, disclosure of their identity is necessary to protect the child, the presumption is that information will be given to the appropriate individual.

Therefore this scheme enables parents, guardians and others to find out about possible sexual offenders or violent offenders who may be in contact with their children or a child they know.

What should I do if I have concerns about the behaviour of an individual?

If you have concerns about an individual, either through their conduct or their conversations with you, or your children, it is appropriate to report such activity to the police, for the sake of your children and other children close by. The police will investigate your concerns.

Can I search the Sex Offenders Register?

No. The Sex Offenders Register is not a document to which the public have access. Access to the Sex Offenders Register is limited. If you have concerns about a person’s behaviour, you may contact the police and if that person is on the Sex Offenders Register, information about that person (on the register) will be given to those who have responsibility for the care of a child, such as a parent, guardian or carer.

What offences are on are on the Sex Offenders Register?

Offences of sexual assault will result in an offender being entered on the Sex Offenders Register. A sexual assault is an individual intentionally touching another person sexually, without that person’s consent

See What sexual offences will result in a person being listed on the Sex Offenders Register?

Can I tell people if I know someone is on the Sex Offenders Register?

No. If a person receives information about an individual being on the Sex Offenders Register, this information must be treated as confidential. The information about an offender is only being given so that steps can be taken to protect children.

Applicants, who apply for information about a person who they believe may be on the register, must not share this information with anyone else unless they have spoken to the police, or the person who gave them the information, and the police have agreed that the information can be shared with others. It was reported in 2020 that Claire Varin, a 37 year old carer, was charged with breaching the non-disclosure agreement she had signed (not to disclose what the police had told her about a neighbour who had asked her daughter to go berry picking).  The charges against Ms Varin were eventually dropped. She then moved away from the street she had lived on.

Contact our specialist sexual assault lawyers today

Contact our no win, no fee sexual assaults solicitors now, for further information on the Sex Offenders Register, or if you wish to consider making a claim for compensation arising out of sexual assaults or sexual abuse against you or a family member.

We will provide confidential advice and, without you having to provide details of the assaults, we are likely to be able to indicate to you within a matter of a minutes whether we can assist you in securing justice, compensation and treatment for the harm you have suffered.

Call us today on 0333 123 9099, email or fill in our online form.

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