HC Deb 07 September 2004 vol 424 cc958-9W
Tim Loughton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many people convicted of paedophile offences have had restrictions imposed on their ownership of credit and debit cards as part of their punishment; [185432]

(2) what provisions exist for limiting the use or issue of credit and debit cards to convicted paedophiles. [185433]

Paul Goggins

[holding answer 20 July 2004]: The Sexual Offences Act 2003 introduced a new civil preventative order; the sexual offences prevention order (SOPO). A court may make a SOPO against someone with a conviction or caution for a relevant sexual offence (those listed in schedules 3 or 5 to the Act) where it is satisfied that such an order is necessary to protect the public or any particular member of the public from serious sexual harm from the defendant. A SOPO prohibits the offender from doing anything described in the order. This means protecting the public from serious physical or psychological harm caused by the defendant committing one or more of the offences listed in schedule 3.

It is possible that a court could make a SOPO that would limit the use of credit or debit cards by the offender, if it was thought that limiting this use would protect the public from serious sexual harm. For example, a SOPO could prohibit an offender from making online purchases. Such a restriction would have to be compatible with a defendant's rights under Article 8 of the Convention.

Statistics on the forms of prohibitions contained in SOPOs are not held by the Home Office.

In addition, the Home Office has been working closely with the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS), who have a clear policy that acquiring banks routinely monitor the transaction activity of their internet merchants, and that the# will not knowingly do business with sites that sell content inciting, advocating or perpetuating violence against pers#ns, including scenes of sexual assault. APACS have also been developing a range of work with the Internet Watch Foundation to assist in tracking and identifying illegal sites.