Police disruption tools

Understand the disruptive measures that can be used by the police against offenders of child exploitation.

Sexual Risk Orders

A Sexual Risk Order (SRO) is a civil order which can be sought by the police against an individual who has not been convicted, cautioned etc. of a Schedule 3 or Schedule 5 offence (or any other offence) but who is nevertheless thought to pose a risk of harm. An SRO may be applied for on free standing application to the magistrates’ court by the chief officer of police, BTP or MoDP or the Director General of the National Crime Agency (NCA). An SRO may be made in respect of an individual who has done an act of a sexual nature, as a result of which, there is reasonable cause to believe that it is necessary to make an order to protect the public from harm.

Closure notices and hotel information requests

The 2014 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act brings in new measures for police to disrupt child sexual exploitation, such as the power to close down premises used to commit sex offences. To issue a closure, the police officer must have reasonable grounds to believe that the premises were, or are likely to be, used for child sex offences and that closure is needed to prevent the place from being used for activities related to child sex offences. The officer must also be satisfied that reasonable efforts have been made to consult the local authority and to establish the identity of any residents or anyone with an interest in the premises.

Police can also request information about hotel guests, such as their name and address, from hotels or similar locations if they reasonably believe that child sexual exploitation is taking place there.

Child Abduction Warning Notices

Child Abduction Warning Notices (or just ‘notices’ in police parlance) were formerly known as Harbourers’ Warnings. They can be issued against individuals who are suspected of grooming children by stating that they have no permission to associate with the named child and that if they do so they can be arrested under the Child Abduction Act 1984 and Children Act 1989.

They can be a useful tool for parents because they require a statement from the person(s) with parental responsibility for the child. This is important if you identify a risk as a parent, but your child insists that the person is a legitimate ‘friend’ or ‘boy/girlfriend’. Some parents supported by Ivison Trust have experienced major frustrations with Child Abduction Warning Notices as breaching the conditions of the notice does not automatically mean an offence has been committed. This is because the legislation stipulates that it must be proven that the adult has ‘taken’ or ‘detained’ the child, which is of course difficult to prove if the child insists they remained with the offender willingly.

The other problem with Child Abduction Warning Notices is that the police are able to issue them for children up to the 18 only if they are in the care of the local authority. At the moment they can only be issued to children up to the age of 16 if they are living at home.