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The legal consequences of offending

You now know what constitutes child sexual abuse and what is illegal in the UK with regards to sexual behaviour involving children. But what are the consequences of child sexual abuse? Some individuals may think the only consequence will be involvement with the police and the worst case scenario is going to prison. However there are many more possible consequences for you, your family and the victim that you need to consider. 

Involvement with the Criminal Justice System (CJS)



Being on the Sex Offenders' Register

Since 1997, anyone cautioned or convicted for a sexual offence, is put on the Sex Offender’s Register (SOR). This includes anyone who commits a sexual offence on the internet.

Under the Sexual Offences Act, all sex offenders must register with the police within three days of their conviction, release from prison, or within three days of submitting a guilty plea in court. If you are convicted, you will be required to go to your local police station and sign the register. If you do not register, you will be charged with another criminal offence.

You are required to provide the following information at registration:

  • Full name and any other names used (aliases)
  • The addresses of any properties that you stay in for more than 7 days a year (non-consecutive)
  • Date of birth
  • National insurance number
  • Passport details

In addition, you must:

  • Notify the police of all foreign travel
  • Notify the police where living or staying with a person aged under 18, for 12 hours or more
  • Notify the police of certain credit card and bank account details

You will be required to go the police station on a regular basis in order to sign a document stating that you are still complying with SOR regulations. If you have no fixed abode, you will be required to go to the police station once a week.

Failure to notify the police of any of the above and failure to notify the police of any changes to any of the above is a criminal offence.

How long will I be on the SOR? – This will depend on the offence you have committed and the sentence you have been given. You could receive:


Length of sentence:

Length of time on SOR:

Custodial sentence of 30 months of more:

Indefinite notification

Custodial sentence of more than 6 months but less than 30 months:

10 years

Custodial sentence of 6 months or less:

7 years


2 years

Any other outcome such as as a community order:

5 years

A conditional discharge: 

Notification requirements apply for the period of discharge

For further information about the SOR visit


Being subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), previously known as a Sexual Offence Prevention Order (SOPO), is a court order that can be requested by the police or the court when there is a specific concern about an individual. This court order will be requested in order to prevent a person from engaging in a particular activity.

It is very common for a person who is convicted of offences relating to the access of sexual images of children, to be subject of a SHPO. Examples of conditions set by the order include:

Not being allowed to go to places where there are likely to be lots of children e.g. a playground in a park

No access to the internet without installed computer monitoring software

No deleting of internet history

No unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18

The police are required to go to your place of residence without giving you notice, to ensure that you are complying with your conditions.


Continue to Additional consequences of offending