The Sex Offenders Register records the details of people convicted, cautioned or in prison for a sexual offence since 1997.

The definition of a sexual offence covers a wide range of offences from voyeurism to rape.

Every adult convicted, cautioned or in prison for a sexual offence against a child goes on the register. Otherwise, whether someone goes on the register depends on the type of offence and the sentence.

Registering with the police

Sex offenders must register with us in person, within three days of being convicted, sentenced, cautioned or released from prison for a sexual offence.

They must give us a photograph and tell us their:

  • name
  • any other names they use
  • address
  • any other addresses where they regularly stay
  • date of birth
  • bank account details
  • National Insurance number
  • passport details
  • details of their conviction

They must also tell us if they:

  • live with a child
  • are staying in a household with a child for 12 or more hours
  • plan to travel abroad, at least 7 days before they travel

Offenders must tell us if any of these details change, within three days of the change.

If nothing changes, they must re-register every year.

If an offender doesn't have a permanent address, they must go to a police station every seven days to tell us where we can find them.

We'll visit offenders at home to assess risk and to make sure they're registering and giving us details when they need to.

We have the power to take an offender's photographs and fingerprints.

How sex offenders are managed

Registered Sex Offenders are managed in the community by specialist police and probation officers.

These officers are helped by other organisations including social services, council housing departments, the Border Force, the Department for Work and Pensions, and mental health specialists.

Sex offenders are often released from prison 'on licence'. This means that they have specific rules they must follow and failing to do so may mean having to go back to prison. 

We can also apply for Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPO) to:

  • stop registered sex offenders doing certain activities or going to places where children gather, like playgrounds and schools

  • make registered sex offenders do something, like tell us about a new mobile phone number within 3 days

If someone breaks the rules of their SHPO they can be prosecuted in court.

How long offenders stay on the register

This depends on how long the sentence for their offence was.

If they were sentenced to 30 months or more in prison they stay on the register indefinitely.

People cautioned (not convicted) for a sexual offence stay on the register for 2 years.

Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme (Sarah’s Law)

The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme (CSODS) lets you formally ask the police whether someone who has one on one contact with a child:

  • is a registered sex offender

  • poses a known risk to the child for some other reason

It's not a law, but it is sometimes called 'Sarah's Law'.

How to report a sex offender for breaching licence or order conditions

If you think a sex offender is breaching the rules of their licence or Sexual Harm Prevention Order, please tell us. Your information could help us protect vulnerable adults or children.

If you suspect someone is in immediate danger, call 999 now. If you're deaf or hard of hearing, use our textphone service 18000 or text us on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the Emergency SMS service

If it isn’t an emergency, you can:

  • call 101
  • if you're deaf or hard of hearing, use our textphone service on 18001 101
  • visit a police station
  • contact Crimestoppers confidentially and anonymously