R (JF and Another) v Secretary of State for the Home Department

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtSupreme Court
JudgeLORD HOPE,LORD RODGER,Lady Hale,LORD PHILLIPS,Lord Clarke
Judgment Date21 April 2010
Neutral Citation[2010] UKSC 17

[2010] UKSC 17

THE SUPREME COURT

Easter Term

On appeal from: 2009 EWCA Civ 792

before

Lord Phillips, President

Lord Hope, Deputy President

Lord Rodger

Lady Hale

Lord Clarke

R (on the application of F (by his litigation friend F)) and Thompson (FC)
(Respondents)
and
Secretary of State for the Home Department
(Appellant)

Appellant

James Eadie QC

Jeremy Johnson

(Instructed by Treasury Solicitors)

1st Respondent

Hugh Southey QC

Adam Straw

(Instructed by Stephensons)

2nd Respondent

Tim Owen QC

Pete Weatherby

(Instructed by Irwin Mitchell)

1st Intervener

Lord Boyd of Duncansby QC

James Mure QC

(Instructed by Scottish Government Legal Directorate Litigation Division)

2st Intervener

Aidan O'Neill QC

Christopher Pirie

(Instructed by Balfour & Manson)

LORD PHILLIPS (with whom Lady Hale and Lord Clarke agree)

Introduction

1

Sexual offences can inflict harm whose consequences persist throughout the lives of their victims and some sexual offenders never lose their predisposition to commit sexual offences. Section 82 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 ("the 2003 Act") imposes on all who are sentenced to 30 months' imprisonment or more for a sexual offence the duty to keep the police notified of where they are living and of travel abroad ("the notification requirements"). This duty persists until the day they die. There is no right to a review of the notification requirements. These appeals raise the question of whether the absence of any right to a review renders the notification requirements incompatible with article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights ("the Convention"). That article provides:

"1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

2

These appeals arise out of two independent claims for judicial review. The first was brought by F. When he was eleven years old he committed a number of serious sexual offences, including two offences of rape, on a six year old boy. On 17 October 2005, having been convicted of these offences after a contested trial, he was sentenced to 30 months' imprisonment on each count concurrent. This sentence automatically brought into effect the notification requirements.

3

The second claim was brought by Mr Thompson. He was born on 1 March 1951. On 12 December 1996 he was sentenced to 5 years' imprisonment, concurrent, on two counts of indecent assault on his daughter, together with other concurrent sentences for assault occasioning actual bodily harm. This sentence also brought into effect the notification requirements.

4

Neither claimant was in a position to bring proceedings pursuant to section 7(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998 on the ground that the imposition of the notification requirements unlawfully infringed his Convention rights, for section 6(2) of that Act precluded such a claim. Each commenced proceedings for judicial review claiming a declaration that the notification requirements were incompatible with article 8 of the Convention. The claims succeeded before the Divisional Court (Latham LJ, Underhill and Flaux JJ) on 19 December 2008, whose decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal (Dyson, Maurice Kay and Hooper LJJ) on 23 July 2009, [2010] 1 WLR 76. The ground on which the claims succeeded was a narrow one. The courts below held that the notification requirements interfered with article 8 rights, that the interference was in accordance with the law and that it pursued legitimate aims, namely the prevention of crime and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others, but that the lack of any provision for review of the notification requirements rendered these a disproportionate manner of pursuing that legitimate aim.

5

It is not to be inferred from the judgments below that, had either claimant been entitled to challenge, by way of a review, the notification requirements made in his case, the challenge would have succeeded. The only issue raised by these appeals is a general one. Does the absence of any right to a review render lifetime notification requirements disproportionate to the legitimate aims that they seek to pursue?

The statutory provisions

6

I propose to adopt, with some additions, the helpful summary of the relevant statutory provisions set out by the Court of Appeal.

7

Statutory notification requirements for sex offenders were first introduced by section 1(3) of the Sex Offenders Act 1997 ("the 1997 Act"). They were automatic on conviction. Under the 1997 Act regime, the notification requirements were to give the police details of the offender's name, address and date of birth within 14 days of conviction, and to notify any address at which he would be staying for 14 days or longer.

8

The Criminal Justice and Courts Services Act 2000 ("the 2000 Act") reduced the initial notification time to 3 days and introduced a new requirement that an offender notify the police if he intended to travel overseas in accordance with regulations made by the Secretary of State. Regulations were made pursuant to the 2000 Act which required that notification of travel should be made at least 48 hours prior to departure and that it should include the identity of the carrier, all points of arrival in destination countries, accommodation arrangements, return date and point of arrival if known.

9

Under the 1997 and 2000 Acts the required notifications could be given either by attending in person at a local police station or by sending a written notification to any such station.

10

All these provisions were repealed by the 2003 Act. Section 82(1) of the 2003 Act contains a table which prescribes the notification periods for different categories of offenders. As I have said, for persons who have been sentenced to imprisonment or detention for 30 months or more, an indefinite period beginning with "the relevant date" is prescribed. For present purposes the relevant date is defined as the date of conviction (section 82(6)). Section 82(2) provides that, where a person is under the age of 18 on the relevant date, the determinate periods prescribed in the table are halved in respect of sentences shorter than 30 months.

11

Section 83 makes provision for initial notification. Thus, within 3 days of the relevant date, the offender must notify to the police the information specified in subsection (5), namely his date of birth; his national insurance number; his name on the relevant date and, where he used one or more other names on that date, each of those names; his home address on the relevant date; his name on the date on which notification is given and, where he uses one or more other names on that date, each of those names; his home address on the date on which notification is given; and the address of any other premises in the United Kingdom at which, at the time the notification is given, he regularly resides or stays.

12

Section 84 makes provision for the notification of changes in the information given pursuant to section 83 within 3 days of the changes occurring. This includes notification of the person's "having resided or stayed, for a qualifying period, at any premises in the United Kingdom the address of which has not been notified to the police…" (subsection (1)(c)). Subsection (6) provides that "qualifying period" means (a) a period of 7 days, or (b) two or more periods, in any period of 12 months, which taken together amount to 7 days.

13

Section 85 provides for periodic notification of the information specified in section 83(5). Section 86(1) provides that the Secretary of State may by regulations make provision requiring offenders who leave the United Kingdom to give a notification under subsection (2) before they leave and a notification under subsection (3) about their subsequent return. A notification under subsection (2) must disclose the date on which the offender will leave; the country (or the first country) to which he will travel and his point of arrival in that country; and any other information prescribed by the regulations which the offender holds about his departure from or return to the United Kingdom or his movements while outside the United Kingdom. A notification under subsection (3) must disclose any information prescribed by the regulations about the offender's return to the United Kingdom.

14

Section 87(1) provides that a person gives a notification by "(a) attending at such police station in his local police area as the Secretary of State may by regulations prescribe…, and (b) giving an oral notification to any police officer, or to any person authorised for the purpose by the officer in charge of the station". Section 87(4) provides that where a notification is given, the relevant offender must, if requested to do so by the police officer or authorised person, allow the officer or person to take his fingerprints and/or photograph any part of him.

15

Section 91(1) provides that a person commits an offence "if he – (a) fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with section 83(1), 84(1), 84(4)(b), 85(1), 87(4)…or any requirement imposed by regulations made under section 86(1)". Section 91(2) provides that a person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment to a term not exceeding 5 years and on summary conviction to a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine or both.

16

Pursuant to section 86 the Secretary of State made the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Travel Notification Requirements) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/1220). These require extremely detailed...

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48 cases
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8 books & journal articles
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    • United Kingdom
    • Journal of Criminal Law, The Nbr. 78-2, April 2014
    • 1 April 2014
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    • Melbourne University Law Review Vol. 36 Nbr. 1, April 2012
    • 1 April 2012
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2 provisions
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    • United Kingdom
    • UK Non-devolved
    • 1 January 2012
    ...In the case of R (on the application of F (by his litigation friend F)) and Thompson (FC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] UKSC 17 the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom on 21st April 2010 made a declaration under section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998 that the “indefini......
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