Man Acquitted of rape, But Placed Under Sexual Risk Order (SRO)

23rd August 2016

Man Acquitted of rape, But Placed Under Sexual Risk Order (SRO)

One of today’s more unusual news stories involves the case of John O’Neil, the man acquitted of rape but then placed under a so-called Sexual Risk Order (SRO) – which requires him to notify police 24 hours before he intends to start an intimate relationship.

The former IT consultant claims police have told him they will visit prospective sexual partners to inform them of his previous acquittal for rape. Unsurprisingly, Mr O’Neill says he hasn’t had a sexual relationship since.

Lawyers and civil rights experts have expressed major concerns about the order, which appears to restrict his freedoms even though he has not been convicted of a crime.

So what exactly is an SRO and how can it be imposed on someone who has no criminal record?

The SRO can be sought by the police against an individual who has not been convicted or cautioned for a sexual offence but who is still considered by the police to pose a risk of harm.

But while it’s a civil order, failure to comply is a criminal offence, punished with a fine or imprisonment of up to five years.

The probability threshold is lower than that required in a criminal court, meaning police can successfully apply for an SRO using the same evidence presented at trial despite an acquittal.

The effects of the order – as witnessed in this case – can be catastrophic.

Those placed under an SRO face the humiliation of publicity, restrictions on their contact with their children and a huge obstacle in their attempts to form intimate relationships.

Mr O’Neil says the decision has also prevented him from working and says he is now living rough in woods near York.

Much like anti-social behaviour orders, SROs were designed to be prohibitive, not to warn others of someone’s past. The order is almost impossible for police to effectively monitor and might be said to be a highly disproportionate restriction on the ability of an individual to have a private life.

How can our Criminal Law Solicitors help?

Gotelee acts for anyone in any walk of life who is being investigated. Our Criminal Law solicitors are renowned throughout Suffolk and East Anglia for being able to minimise the impact and achieve a positive outcome.

Gotelee Solicitors, which has offices is Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Woodbridge and Melton, has a specialist team of Criminal Law lawyers who are able to help clients who are on the receiving end of the power of the state – whether it be the police, a government department or agency, or a local authority.

To find out more, call us on 01473 298141 or email hugh.rowland@gotelee.co.uk

Partner
Practice Areas
Criminal Law Solicitors
Regulatory
Blog Posts

Is your fulfilment business under threat?

07/08/2017

The Fulfilment House Due Diligence Scheme - the new weapon in the war on…

Read More
Upcoming Events

Gotelee Coffee Morning, Melton

12/10/2017

Join us again for another coffee morning, this time at our Melton office -…

Read More
News Posts

An icy warning for drivers defrosting their cars

14/11/2017

Suffolk has woken with a shiver this week as winter edges nearer and temperatures…

Read More

Testimonials

"Pat Smith's efficient, calm, most capable, helpful and friendly manner."

- AG

"The patience and understanding from a sincere Miss Holland."

- AD

"Prompt, efficient and knowledgeable service"

- KB

"Clarity, plenty of information provided and responses in a timely manner"

- AG

"Mrs Tracey Hammond is very professional and helpful, efficient and very friendly"

- KS

"Judy Barfoot's approachable and knowledgeable professionalism was second to none"

- CM & SM

"Ms Stuart's friendly but direct approach. I always felt understood"

- JR

"Very flexible and accommodating, very positive & clearly explained my options"

- SD

"Friendly and approachable - using language I could understand"

- CV

"Efficient, polite, friendly service with very helpful advice"

- JA

Please select preferred method of contact

* We will only contact you by telephone if you select this as primary form of contact.