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CRIMINAL LAW/HUMAN RIGHTS: R (F) v Secretary of State for Justice; R (Thompson) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2008] EWHC 3170

Date:8 JAN 2009

(Queen's Bench Division, Divisional Court; Latham LJ, Underhill and Flaux JJ; 19 December 2008)

The two claimants had each been placed on the Sex Offenders Register for an indefinite period, effectively for the rest of their lives, as there was no statutory mechanism for review. One of them had been released on licence, now expired, and was in ill-health; the other had been 11 when the offences were committed, had been released, and was now 16. Under the notification requirements of Sexual Offences Act 2003, Pt 2, both were required to inform the police of the address at which they were living for 7 days, whether consecutive or not, in any 12 month period, and to give notification in advance of foreign travel and returning to the UK; all such notification had to be in person at a police station, and police could take fingerprints and photographs at any such notification. It was accepted that this was an interference with the claimants' rights under European Convention on Human Rights, Art 8; the question was whether the measures were proportionate.

The court granted a declaration of incompatibility. It was not justifiable in Art 8 terms to deny a person who believed himself able to establish that he no longer presented any risk of re-offendingan opportunity to seek to do so. As a matter of principle an offender was entitled to have the question of whether or not the notification requirement continued to serve a legitimate purpose determined.The failure to make any provision for review of the notification requirement was a disproportionate interference with the claimants' rights under Art 8.