An item I read in a newspaper recently made me think how little the average man, including myself, knows about the hidden intricacies of the law when a man is ordered to tell the police a day before he has sex with a woman. The unlucky man has been banned from having any sexual activities with a woman unless he tells the police of his intention 24 hours in advance.
The drill is as follows: He must go to his local police station with the name, address and date of birth of his sex-partner a day before the planned intercourse. The restrictions are part of an interim Sexual Risk Order and will continue until May, when York Magistrates will decide whether to make a full order – and if so, for how long.
Under the interim order, if the man from York, who cannot be named for legal reasons, plans to start a sexual relationship of any kind with a woman or to have a one-off sexual activity with any woman, he has to contact the local force and tell them who the woman is. He must do this at least 24 hours before any sexual act takes place. Presumably he is free to seek sexual satisfaction with other men.
The man is also subject to controls over his use of the internet and must tell the police about every phone and device that he could use for accessing the internet or calling and texting people. What a tall order this happens to be!
Apparently, full sexual risk orders last for a minimum of 2 years and breaching an order can lead to a prison sentence of up to 5 years. They are used when someone has not been convicted of a sexual offence, but the police convince a court it is necessary for one to be made against a person to protect the public against him or her. North Yorkshire police successfully applied for the interim order against this man and will apply for the full order in May.
Sexual Risk Orders are a civil matter and can be made even when the person concerned has not been convicted of a sexual offence. Dr Sean Gabb, a civil liberties campaigner, said the order was ‘against article 39 of the Magna Carta, which says no free man should be stripped of his rights except by judgement of his peers.’
On the face of it, and without knowing the details of the case, this draconian law appears to give credence to the adage that the law can sometimes be an ass.