September 2013

Paedophile loses bank rule challenge

A convicted paedophile has lost a legal challenge against rules requiring him to disclose bank details to police.

The man, released from jail in 2010, claimed the rules breached his right to a private life and were not necessary.

The recently-introduced measures require convicted sex offenders to reveal bank accounts and credit cards.

But rejecting the challenge, the High Court said the rules were a “very valuable” practical and proportionate way of monitoring sex offenders.

Christopher Prothero, of Birmingham, was convicted in 2007 of nine counts of indecent assault and indecency with a child and jailed for four and a half years.

After his release in 2010, he struggled to get a job and became self-employed. He told the court that he had complied with all of his licence conditions, such as a requirement to tell the police where he was living.

In 2012, following an important Supreme Court ruling, the Home Secretary changed the rules governing the notification scheme. She introduced a right of appeal – but also ordered offenders to hand over bank account details, bringing the system in to line with Scotland.

Prothero was among the thousands of convicted offenders required to hand over information.

But he challenged the order to hand over details of his two bank accounts, saying that it was an invasion of his privacy and he was concerned the information may get into the wrong hands or be used by the authorities for another purpose.

Dismissing the challenge, the judges said that neither the police nor other agencies who had access to the records could use it to find out how the claimant was spending his money. They would need a court order to get that detailed information.

They added, though, that the experience of Scotland proved that handing over bank details had helped detectives to trace people if they committed further offences.

They said: “There can be no doubt about the legitimate policy objective of the regulations – the ability to trace an offender quickly, to guard against the risk of an offender using another identity or to have a means of obtaining quick access to a credit card account to investigate offences in relation to indecent images.”

In their judgement, Sir John Thomas and Mr Justice Hickinbottom, said: “We do not consider that the means employed are in any way inappropriate or disproportionate.

“They are plainly a practical and proportionate means of providing further protection to prevent other persons becoming potential victims of those on the Sexual Offences Register.

“In reaching that judgement we have taken into account the fact that no power is given to access the accounts and that the information provided by an offender will be securely held.”