guardian.co.uk: Sex offenders win appeal against indefinite inclusion on register - Supreme court backs case of two sex offenders who claim being on register for life without review breaches their human rights.
A UK Supreme Court ruling today has opened the way for hundreds of sex offenders to challenge whether they should remain on the sex offenders' register for life.
The ruling backed a case brought by two convicted sex offenders who challenged their indefinite inclusion on the register without any right to a review, claiming it breached their human rights.
One, who was convicted of rape when he was 11 years old, argued that being on the register had prevented him taking his family on holiday or playing rugby league. The other offender, Angus Aubrey Thompson, now aged 59, was jailed for five years for indecent assault 14 years ago.
Their lawyers argued they had been labeled for life without any opportunity to demonstrate they had reformed.
The current legislation says that any sex offender sentenced to a prison sentence of at least 30 months is placed on the register for life and has a duty to keep the police informed of any change of address or travel abroad.
The supreme court decision published today follows an appeal by the home secretary against an earlier appeal court ruling that the lack of any review was incompatible with the European convention on human rights, in particular the right to respect for a private and family life.
Lord Phillips, the supreme court president, said: "It is obvious that there must be some circumstances in which an appropriate tribunal could reliably conclude that the risk of an individual carrying out a further sexual offense can be discounted to the extent that continuance of notification requirements is unjustified."
The judges stressed that the ruling did not mean the sex offenders' register itself was illegal and said that it was entirely reasonable and lawful to monitor someone for life if they were assessed to be a danger to society.
But the judges rejected the home secretary's appeal, saying there was no evidence to show it was impossible to identify which sex offenders had reformed. Home Office research submitted during the case showed that 75% of sex offenders who were monitored over a 21-year period were not re-convicted of any offense.
Mike Pemberton, solicitor for F, who was convicted of the rape of a six-year-old boy when he was 11, said his client wanted a fair chance to show that he had reformed.
"This case is important because it considers the right of a child to mature and develop. At present, any child who commits an offense of this type is labeled for life with no consideration being given to the effect of growing older and learning important lessons from previous mistakes."
He said the men were not arguing to be automatically removed from the register, only for a chance for the risk they now posed to be reviewed.
The supreme court ruling means that an incoming government will need to look again at the law and introduce a review mechanism. Home Office officials will consider the ruling before making any recommendations. The existing requirements on sex offenders to notify the police of their movements remain in force in the meantime.