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  • Namita Pawa

Serious Crime Prevention Order

What is a Serious Crime Prevention Order?

A Serious Crime Prevention Order (‘SCPO’) is a legal tool used to prevent individuals involved in serious crime from continuing their criminal activities. It is governed by the Serious Crime Act 2007.


An SCPO is typically sought by law enforcement agencies and granted by a court, generally following conviction for serious offending. It imposes specific conditions on the individual subject to the order, aiming to restrict their activities and disrupt their involvement in criminal behaviour.


The conditions can include restrictions on travel, communication, association with certain individuals, and limitations on financial transactions as well as notification requirements across a specific of topics.


The purpose of an SCPO is to protect the public by reducing the risk posed by individuals involved in serious criminal activities. It is an additional measure that can be applied alongside criminal convictions and sentences to prevent further offences and dismantle criminal networks.


If the individual subject to the SCPO does not comply with the conditions, they will be committing a separate offence, which can result in them being prosecuted and a further penalty imposed.


What are the types of restrictions imposed by a SCPO in England?

An SCPO can impose a variety of restrictions on the individual subject to the order. The specific conditions depend on the circumstances of the case and are determined by the court. Here are some examples of restrictions that can be included in an SCPO:


  • Travel Restrictions: The order may prohibit or impose limitations on the individual's travel within the country or abroad. This can include requirements to notify authorities of travel plans or surrender travel documents.

  • Communication Restrictions: The SCPO can restrict the individual's ability to communicate with certain individuals, including known criminals or members of a criminal organisation. It may also limit their access to certain communication devices or platforms.

  • Financial Restrictions: The order can impose controls on the individual's financial activities, such as limitations on accessing or managing funds, restrictions on opening bank accounts, or requirements to disclose financial information.

  • Association Restrictions: The SCPO may prevent the individual from associating or meeting with specific individuals involved in criminal activities or belonging to certain groups or organisations.

  • Internet and Technology Restrictions: The order can place limitations on the individual's use of the internet and technology, such as banning access to certain websites, requiring monitoring of online activities, or restricting the use of encryption.

  • Business and Employment Restrictions: The SCPO can impose limitations on the individual's involvement in certain types of businesses or professions, aiming to disrupt their potential criminal activities or access to illicit resources.


These are some examples, but it's important to note that the specific conditions of an SCPO can vary on a case-by-case basis, tailored to address the risks and circumstances of the individual involved in serious criminal activities.


What are the Implications of Breaching a SCPO?

Breaching the terms of an SCPO can have significant legal consequences. When an individual subject to an SCPO fails to comply with the imposed restrictions and conditions, they can face the following implications:


  • Criminal Offence: Breaching the terms of an SCPO is considered a criminal offence in itself. The individual can be prosecuted for the breach, which can lead to a separate criminal conviction and sentence.

  • Penalties: Upon conviction for breaching an SCPO, the court has the power to impose penalties, including fines and imprisonment. The severity of the penalties can vary based on the seriousness of the breach and the circumstances of the case.

  • Stricter Monitoring: A breach of an SCPO may result in increased scrutiny and monitoring by law enforcement agencies. The individual's activities may be more closely monitored to prevent further criminal behaviour.

  • Modification of the SCPO: If a breach occurs, the court may modify the existing SCPO to include additional or stricter conditions in order to enhance public safety and deter future breaches.


It is important to note that breaching the terms of an SCPO is a serious matter, and the consequences can be severe. Individuals subject to an SCPO are strongly advised to adhere to the imposed restrictions to avoid legal complications and further penalties.


Can you Challenge the Terms of an SCPO?

Yes, it is possible to challenge the terms of a SCPO. If an individual subject to an SCPO believes that the conditions imposed are unfair, unreasonable, or disproportionate, they have the right to challenge them through the legal process.


To challenge the terms of an SCPO, the individual can seek legal advice from a solicitor or barrister experienced in criminal law. The legal professional can guide them through the process and help prepare the necessary documentation and arguments to present to the court.


Typically, the challenge would involve applying to the court to vary or discharge specific conditions of the SCPO. The court will consider the evidence and arguments presented by both the individual and the prosecuting authorities and make a decision based on the merits of the case.


It's important to note that challenging an SCPO can be a complex legal process, and the outcome will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the discretion of the court. Seeking professional legal advice is crucial to navigate this process effectively.


Legal disclaimer: Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is accurate at the date of publication but please note that the law is ever changing and evolving. If you require advice in relation to any matter raised in this article please contact a member of the team.

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