Share Article: Sexual harm prevention orders (‘SHPO’) & Polygraph tests

Since 29th November 2022 a court can impose a positive requirement on a defendant under an SHPO (section 175 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022).

This, says the government, includes a requirement to participate in Polygraph (lie-detector) tests.

In a recent case the Court of Appeal confirmed that there was no objection in principle to a Polygraph testing requirement, but certain safeguards would need to be observed. The Court rejected challenges to such orders under Articles 6 & 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

These safeguards are:

  • That the court must receive evidence about the suitability and enforceability of such a requirement from the individual or an individual representing the organisation who is specified to supervise.
  • As with SOPOs, no order should be made by way of SHPO unless necessary to protect the public from sexual harm as set out in the statutory language.
  • If an order is necessary, then the prohibitions imposed must be effective; if not, the statutory purpose will not be achieved.
  • Any SHPO prohibitions imposed must be clear and realistic. They must be readily capable of simple compliance and enforcement. It is to be remembered that breach of a prohibition constitutes a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment.
  • As re-stated by R v NC, none of the SHPO terms must be oppressive and, overall, the terms must be proportionate.
  • Finally, any SHPO must be tailored to the facts.

There is no one size that fits all factual circumstances.

It is clear that before imposing such an order there must be the utmost level of scrutiny to ensure it is necessary and proportionate. All of our advocates are trained in this area of law and will ensure that there is an objection to any inappropriate terms being included in such orders.

How can we help?
If you need specialist advice on a matter of criminal law, then get in touch with our Crime Team on 020 7935 3522 or or in an emergency please call our 24/7 number 07973 259382 and let us help. We can advise on a plea, defences and potential sentences in a wide range of circumstances.

Whatever your personal circumstances the above is only a guide and we would advise you to contact us to obtain definitive advice as you will appreciate that each person’s circumstances are unique to them.

Image credit: “Lie Detector” by celesteh is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


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