Specialist SHPO/SOPO Defence Lawyers

Put your trust in Clifford Johnston & Co.

  • Defence Solicitors for SHPO/SOPO Offences
  • Law Society Criminal Litigation Accreditation
  • Proactive & Robust SHPO/SOPO Defence
  • Get in Touch for Expert Defence

Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPO) and Sexual Offences Prevention Orders (SOPO) Lawyers

Has a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) or Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) been made against you? Do you wish to vary or discharge the order, or simply better understand what it means for you and your rights?

If so, it is extremely important that you instruct an expert SOPO/SHPO Defence Lawyer to give you the best possible chance of achieving a successful outcome.

Clifford Johnston & Co. has an experienced and decisive team of Serious Crime Solicitors, who have provided the highest standard of criminal case representation for 30 years across England and Wales.

We are here to provide immediate legal advice and guidance to clients facing serious, life-changing allegations, helping them navigate complicated areas of the law that can be distressing and overwhelming.

Our Criminal Law Defence Solicitors have been recognised on numerous occasions, most recently as shortlisted finalists for Crime Team of the year at the Manchester Legal Awards in 2019, 2020 and 2021.


Crime team of the year Manchester


What is a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO)?

A sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) is a civil measure taken by a magistrates’ court or crown court in an attempt to protect an individual or the general public from the risk of sexual harm.

An SHPO is imposed during sentencing, or following allegations made against an individual who has previously been convicted of, or cautioned for, a sexual offence. The court must agree that their behaviour suggests they are at risk of reoffending.

An SHPO is typically ordered against those who have been cautioned or convicted for a sexual offence listed in either Schedule 3 or Schedule 5 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, including:

  • Rape
  • Sexual assault of a child
  • Making, possession or distribution of indecent images of children
  • Incest
  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Kidnapping

Anyone who has been convicted or cautioned, received a reprimand, final warning or youth caution for a relevant offence can be considered for an SHPO if they are thought to pose a threat to the wider public or specific individuals.

Guilt is not always necessary to receive an SHPO, however. Alleged behaviour that did not result in a prosecution can also lead to an SHPO, if that alleged behaviour was deemed troubling enough by the police or social services.

What is a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO)?

A Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) is the name of an SHPO prior to March 2015.

What does a SOPO/SHPO include?

The requirements of a SHPO are specific to the particular offence or alleged behaviour, and can vary enormously from order to order.

However, they must be justified, proportionate and enforceable.

Prohibitions typically include:

  • Name added to the Sex Offenders’ Register
  • SHPO added indefinitely to the police national computer
  • Must notify the police if you change name, address or plan to travel outside of the UK
  • Order can be mentioned during any future criminal proceedings
  • Restriction of travel overseas
  • Limited internet use
  • Police will be entitled to seize and check devices and internet history
  • Restrictions on certain forms of employment
  • Order must be disclosed to future employers and insurance providers

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

How long does a SOPO/SHPO last?

An SHPO lasts for a minimum of five years, with no maximum length.

Any restrictions placed on overseas travel must be reviewed after five years.

If you receive an SHPO and intend to work with children, the order is never considered spent and must be disclosed at any time, even beyond the stated length of the order.

In addition, it will show up on both standard and enhanced DBS checks indefinitely, unless it is eligible for filtering. It will not be disclosed in basic DBS checks once the order is spent.

The police may look to renew an order when it becomes close to expiring, if they consider you to still be a risk to the wider public.

What happens if you breach a sexual harm prevention order?

Breaching an order could lead to a fine, imprisonment, or both.

The maximum custodial sentence for breaching an SHPO is 5 years, with the courts taking into account the severity of the breach and the harm caused when deciding your sentence.

In many cases, for less serious breaches of SHPOs, community punishments or suspended sentences are often the outcome, while decisions can be appealed in the local Magistrates Court.

A common issue we deal with on behalf of our clients is helping to appeal old SHPOs that have not kept up with the rate of change of technology. Before the internet became an integral part of our daily lives, many SHPOs banned any internet use outright.

If you have breached an order or believe your order to be unfit for purpose and unjustifiable, get in touch with our specialist solicitors today for the advice you need.

Can I have a SOPO/SHPO discharged or varied?

An individual who is subject to an SHPO is entitled to vary the terms of the order or discharge it completely if the court is satisfied that any of the following conditions apply:

  • The individual is no longer considered a risk to the public
  • An order is disproportionate, unenforceable or unjustified
  • The risk to the public detailed is inconsistent with the wording and prohibitions listed in the order
  • It infringes the individual’s legal or human rights
  • The police are using it to circumvent procedures in other areas
  • Your offender manager is mismanaging your case

This list is not exhaustive and there may be other circumstances that mean you are able to vary or discharge an SHPO.

If you think your order should be changed, get in touch with the team of SHPO specialists at Clifford Johnston & Co. today and we will help you better understand your rights and how best to proceed.

How Clifford Johnston & Co. can help

Due to the severity of the allegations involved with an SHPO, and the potential restrictions on your life, seeking representation and advice from lawyers with specialist knowledge of this complicated area of law is essential.

The sooner you receive expert advice, the sooner you can start to get your life back on track.

The tenacious solicitors at Clifford Johnston & Co have years of experience providing support to those who feel their SHPO is unjustified, disproportionate or no longer required.

As a direct consequence of our decisive action, we have successfully discharged many SOPO/SHPO orders, while also removing clients from the Sex Offenders’ Register.

We have developed a reputation for understanding the circumstances of our clients and tailoring our approach to each individual, depending on what they most need from us and what their ideal outcome is. Of course, every enquiry is dealt with in an emphatic and confidential manner. Get in touch today and one of our dedicated team will get back to you.

Get in touch

Having an SHPO against you can cause significant damage to your life. The effects can be far-reaching which is why immediate legal help is necessary.

We cannot stress enough the difference our advice and assistance could make to your quality of life and prospects for the future.

If you, or someone you know, needs help better understanding an SHPO, Clifford Johnston & Co. is available 24 hours a day to ensure that you can access the advice and representation that you need.

We offer a free initial consultation in complete confidence, and the details of the consultation and any future dealings with you will remain completely confidential.

We are rated Excellent (Category 1) by the Peer Review Team of the Legal Aid Agency, and are widely respected for our attention to detail, professionalism and client communication.

We are fully conversant with changes to the law which enables us to ensure that the advice you are given is current and clear.

Contact us today for advice that you can trust at a price which is affordable.

Need some professional advice?

Do you have any issues that you are worried about? Contact our professional team for a free, no-obligation informal discussion, where we can discuss your particular requirements in greater detail.

Clifford Johnston & Co. Accreditations

  • assault defence lawyers