Sexual Risk Orders & Interim Sexual Risk Orders

If you have been served with an application for a Sexual Risk Order and/or an Interim Sexual Risk Order you should be considering expert legal help. These applications are complicated with special rules of evidence and procedure involved.

The police force will employ an experienced barrister to make the applications for the Interim Sexual Risk Order and the full Sexual Risk Order. What this means is that the defendant will be up against an advocate in court who has considerable experience in this very complicated area of law.

You do not need to be convicted of any wrongdoing for an application to be made.

The evidence against you may be hearsay.

The real-life effect of an SRO or ISRO is massive and will often touch upon every waking aspect of the subject’s life, both personal and professional.

Email Paolo Martini on or use the contact form below to get in touch today:


How We Can Help

Paolo MartiniPaolo Martini of Cobleys Solicitors is an expert in this developing and very discrete area of law having been defending such applications since 2017. He is one of the most experienced defence lawyers in the country where Sexual Risk Orders and Interim Sexual Risk Orders are concerned.

On occasions, he has been forced to educate senior and experienced police officers on the law during actual police interviews at the police station after an arrest, showing the police that their interpretation of the notification requirements, for example, is, in fact, wrong in law.

Paolo has unparalleled experience in defending Sexual Risk Order applications, both in the Magistrates’ Court and in the Crown Court, and has taken orders to appeal at the Crown Court.

He has worked as both counsel and solicitor in such applications, having higher rights of audience allowing him to act as counsel. On occasion, and when the case suits, Paolo has employed and worked alongside King’s Counsel and senior junior barristers in defending applications for both Sexual Risk Orders and Interim Sexual Risk Orders.

Paolo Martini can help you with;

  • Resisting applications for an SRO.
  • Resisting applications for an Interim SRO.
  • Making application to discharge an SRO.
  • Making application to amend the terms of an SRO.
  • Appealing an ISRO or SRO.

Paolo says: “During 2023 I have noticed, with not a little dismay, that the police have prioritised applications for Sexual Risk Orders. I have already received more enquiries than I did during the whole of 2022. Undoubtedly, this is as a consequence of a change in the law in November 2022 reducing the standard of proof from the criminal to the civil. This means that to obtain an order the police need only show on the balance of probabilities that one act of a sexual nature occurred, as opposed to satisfying the court so it is sure that it occurred. This is a change of great significance making it far easier to obtain an order.

In the last 18 months I have dealt with many cases where the impact of an SRO has a demonstrably more damaging effect on a client’s life than a sentence following a criminal conviction. I have dealt with cases where even absent a requirement to surrender a passport the police have informed border control of a country to which my client is about to travel. That country’s border control invariably then refuses entry. In another example of the Draconian effect of these orders a client who was made subject to a poorly drafted SRO was forced to leave his home address because it was the supervising police officer who had been made responsible for the risk assessment, and not social services.

It is crucial that anybody served with an application for an SRO takes advice from a lawyer experienced in dealing with these applications. Many have not dealt with them before. They are not straight forward and may be life changing for the individual.

The recently published article of my professional colleague Rupert Bowers KC with whom I work in this area, is informative, and well worth reading if you are currently facing such an application for an SRO.”


How Sexual Risk Orders affects defendants

These orders have a profound impact on every aspect of a person’s life. The orders affect relationships with loved ones and make working and employment very difficult and sometimes impossible.

Every jail sentence is as a consequence of being convicted of a serious criminal offence, but at least they allow the offender to leave prison, complete the license period and begin life again with a clean slate. This is not the case for somebody made the subject of a Sexual Risk Order. The stigma attached to such an order is truly life-changing. Often the applications are renewed when the order reaches the end of its life so there is never any certainty as to when the order will end.

Consider that somebody who has never been convicted of a criminal offence can become the subject of an order that:

  • May and often does last for 10 years.
  • If breached, can lead to prosecution and a custodial sentence.
  • Can be extended, sometimes, on what appears a whim.
  • Almost always renders the subject as unemployable for the rest of their working lifetime.
  • Prevents and forbids contact with children in certain circumstances.
  • Often compromises any new relationship because the police will always want to conduct a risk assessment upon the new partner and any family that they have.
  • That heavily restricts foreign travel and often leads to a lottery whether the subject will be allowed into a foreign country.
  • All these inhibitions on enjoying your life come without ever being convicted of a criminal offence.
  • Impacts profoundly on a defendant’s Human Rights.

It would be common for the National Crime Agency to pay particular attention to an individual who frequently travels abroad. There often has been a complaint from a foreign national living in a distant land to a foreign agency of suspected grooming of a child. The NCA may have investigated the individual and found no evidence upon which to bring a formal prosecution in this country. However, an application can be made to the Magistrates’ Court, which has to be on notice, for a Sexual Risk Order.

The police will almost always serve the application by hand on the subject, turning up unannounced at the subject’s home address. The application is often hundreds of pages long. The application will almost always be accompanied by an application for an Interim Sexual Risk Order, being an immediate application to the local Magistrates’ Court for the Interim Order to be made whilst the parties are preparing for the application for the full order.

The application for a Sexual Risk Order is often very complicated. Different rules of evidence apply, as the applications follow the civil evidence rules but are brought in the criminal arena of the Magistrates’ Court. This is another reason that sets such orders apart from any other kind of punishment.

No witnesses and no jury required?

In the Crown Court, the criminal rules of evidence apply, witnesses have to be called and can be cross-examined. A defendant is only convicted if the jury is sure that the evidence shows the defendant to be guilty. However, where there is an application for a Sexual Risk Order (and Interim Sexual Risk Order), no live witness need ever be called by the police to support their application, and if the police never have to bring a live witness to court then no witness can be cross-examined.

The application is never presented to or decided by a jury. In a criminal prosecution at the Crown Court a defendant always has the right to have a jury of 12 normal people who decide where the truth lies. It is normal in these applications for written witness statements (more often than not written witness statements of the police officers who are involved in the investigation of the subject) to be presented to a District Judge in the Magistrates’ Court.

It is ironic that the subject of a Sexual Risk Order application is actually formally described within the proceedings as a ‘defendant’ but is not afforded any of the rights and protections a normal defendant (in the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court) would be entitled to.

Almost all applications for a Sexual Risk Order are preceded by an application for an Interim Sexual Risk Order. It is important to understand that the evidential watershed that the police have to reach to persuade a Magistrates’ Court to grant an Interim Order is significantly lower than what is required to persuade a Magistrates’ Court to grant a Sexual Risk Order.

The defendant then has the prejudice and stain of going into the application for the full order already being the subject of an Interim Order, making his chances of avoiding the full order even slimmer.

What is a Sexual Risk Order?

Sexual Risk Order Definition:

Sexual Risk Orders are available under Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and can be applied to those who pose a risk of harm. The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 amended the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Sexual Risk Orders can be applied to any individual who poses a risk of harm to the public in the UK and/or children or vulnerable adults abroad.

Interim Sexual Risk Order Definition:

Interim Sexual Risk Orders are placed to protect the public, or any particular individuals, during any period between the application for a full order and its determination. Breach of any of the prohibitions of an interim order is a criminal offence carrying the same maximum penalty as a breach of a full order.

Misuse of Interim Sexual Risk Orders

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (amending the Sexual Offences 2003 Act) sounds like an Act that has been around long enough for the police, prosecution and courts to have got to grips with its intricacies. This is unfortunately not the case. Very few applications have been brought to court and so the courts’ experience is still very limited.

The police, and particularly the National Crime Agency, have realised the weapon the act has placed in its armoury. They can obtain an order of the most draconian terms against any person of interest to them, without having to prove any offence to the criminal standard. Once the order is made a police officer can attend at your home address, unannounced, and demand to inspect all communication devices and the history of searches contained within each. In reality, there is no ability to refuse such a visit or inspection.

  • Police, on occasions, misunderstand the new laws and the powers they are afforded under them:
  • They sometimes fail to understand and recognise the differences in the legal obligations placed on defendants who are subject to Sexual Risk Orders, as opposed to other Orders under the same act.
  • They are prone to misapply the rules of evidence and have a habit of serving evidence within applications that has little or no relevance and may even be inadmissible.
  • They are sometimes too quick to make arrests for breaching Sexual Risk Orders and Interim Sexual Risk Orders, which can easily lead to a custodial sentence.

Email Paolo Martini on or use the contact form above to get in touch today.