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Serious Crime Prevention Orders (SCPO)

Stacey-Lee Holland

What is an SCPO?

A Serious Crime Prevention Order is a civil order which the Court can impose to prevent a person’s involvement in serious crime.

When can the court make an SCPO?

There are two instances in which an order can be made:

  1. The Crown Court can make an SCPO if a person has been convicted of a serious offence by the Crown Court or a person has been committed to the Crown Court following a conviction for a serious offence by the Magistrates' Court.

  2. The High Court can also make an order when a person has not been convicted of any crime if that said person has been "involved" in a serious crime.

This blog will focus on applications made in the Crown Court post-conviction.

What is the test?

An SCPO can only be applied for in respect of persons aged 18 or over.

The court must be satisfied that:

  1. That the defendant has been involved in a serious offence, and

  2. That there are reasonable grounds to believe that the order would protect the public by preventing, restricting or disrupting the offender’s involvement in serious crime (ie: further offences which fall within the Act).

A serious offence is defined in s2(2) of the Serious Crime Act 2007 (SCA) as an offence falling within those listed in Part 1 of schedule 1 or falls within the definition of “an offence which in the particular circumstances ... the court considers to be sufficiently serious to be treated (as a serious offence) for the purposes of the application". This includes offences such as drugs trafficking, firearms, armed robbery, fraud and organised crime.

It includes attempted offences and encouraging or assisting any such offence.

There must be a real or significant risk that the defendant will commit further serious offences, not just a possibility. (R v Hancox and Duffy [2010] EWCA Crim 102).

An order should not be sought if other ancillary orders would be available which would achieve the desired aim of the SCPO.

What terms can be included?

S19(5) of the SCA allows the Crown Court to impose any conditions deemed appropriate for the purpose of protecting the public from serious crime. The terms can therefore be very wide, for example, the order may limit association with others, limit ownership of electronic devices or require you to provide information or documentation about yourself or your property.

It is worth noting however that the terms of any order must be proportionate and enforceable (R v Barnes and Orford [2012] EWCA Crim 2549).

How long will it last?

A SCPO cannot last for any longer than 5 years.

Can a SCPO be appealed?

The decision to impose, or conversely to not impose, a SCPO can be appealed to the Court of Appeal Criminal division. The applicant must get leave from the Court of Appeal (s24(3) SCA 2007) or must obtain a certificate from the Judge whose decision is being appealed, certifying that the decision is fit for appeal (s24(4) SCA 2007)

Stacey-Lee Holland is a barrister in chambers, specialising in criminal law. To instruct Stacey-Lee, contact our clerks at or on 020 7936 2613.

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